Friday, November 14, 2008

Touch Your Boobies

I'm going to postpone my weekly weigh-in post until tomorrow, because there is something that I want to share with you all, which is really important. (but if you look at my ticker, you'll see there is something to celebrate!) Anyway, here's my story. I apologize because I think it's my longest post ever, but it's important.

I woke up on Saturday, November 1, groggy from a large carb indulgence that I shared with friends (pasta dinner with an excellent pumpkin bar creation that my friend made). I do what I do every morning: pee and then strip down to my underwear to weigh myself. I was curious to see what damage those snickers did to my weight loss. But what I didn't expect to happen did. I yawned and stretched, and while I was in front of the mirror, I saw a lump on my right breast. Um, what? When I put my arms down, you couldn't see it, but when I touched it, it felt solid. I could have thrown up right then and there. At first, I called my PCP, because her office is open on Saturdays until noon, and as soon as I told them that I found a lump in my breast, they scheduled me for a Monday afternoon appointment. I then called my mom, freaking out. Crying. I'm four months from my 29th birthday. I have no family history of breast cancer. There is no way this is happening to me. Luckily, my mom was strong for me, and I got past it. Doesn't mean that I didn't spend most of Saturday moping around, being scared. What I kept reminding myself was that I was young and that 80% of lumps are NON-CANCEROUS (thank you Susan G. Komen's website).

Monday, November 3: I was completely freaked out at my dr's appointment. What was positively weird about this whole thing is that I was at the dr's the week before for my annual exam (my PCP is also my gyno) and she found no lumps. I found no lumps. And there it was. About the size of a marble. Because it was palpable, she decided to send me for an ultrasound. I went straight from my PCP's office to the breast care center at the university's hospital. The women there were very nice, bringing me back to a changing area, giving me a little locker for my belongings, showing me the comfy waiting room for us ladies in our blue wrap-around tops. Finally, I was called back for my ultrasound, and the friendliest technician did my ultrasound. She really helped to calm my fears. She told me that I would hear from them in the next 24-48 hours if they found an abnormality, and if I didn't hear from them, no news was good news.

Wednesday, November 5: Still a little hungover from my Obama drinking, I thought to myself, no news is good news. It's been almost two days. And around 10AM, I got a phone call from Lisa, a nurse at the breast care center. The radiologist had looked at my ultrasound and wanted me to come in for a vacuum needle biopsy. However, the breast care center only did these procedures on Wednesdays, and it WAS Wednesday, so we scheduled it for Wednesday, November 12. One week. My friends who I shared this news with were all very supportive. E and D volunteered to come along and hold my hand. My mom said that she would drive the five hours to come hold my hand. I appreciated it all, but I was strong.

There were a few things that got me through the week. First, and most important, I was young, and 80% of all lumps are non-cancerous. I had no family history of breast cancer. However, my mom has had fibroadenomas and had one lumpectomy to take one out that looked odd. But no cancer. My mom also told me that she was about my age when she found her first fibroadenoma, but again, no cancer. I held onto those little tidbits as my strength. I kept repeating to myself, I don't have cancer. I don't have cancer.

Wednesday, November 12: I went to the breast care center around 8:15, and again was shown to the cozy waiting room, where I was waiting with my fashionable wraparound teal top. I was ready for this. Finally, Lisa (the nurse) brought me back and reexplained the procedure (not that she hadn't already done it, and that I hadn't done further research on my own). First, they would numb my skin around the lump. Then, they would give me a local anesthetic deeper down into my breast. When it was all numb, they would give me a little nick (less than a 1/4 of an inch) for the hollow needle to be inserted. Then, the radiologist would vacuum 6-8 samples out of the lump itself. After that was done, they would close me up with skin glue (Grey's watchers: I totally freaked at this point-- would I be disfigured for life ala McArmy and Karev?? I need to stop watching TV.) Oh, and I would get to experience my first mammogram after that.

That was the procedure. There were a few surprises. First, the radiologist is a man. A short little man that as soon as he walked into the room, I thought I was being treated by Rocket Romano from ER (you know, surgeon who was a jerk to everyone to make up for his baldness and stature). He was very matter of fact, and told me that he suggested I get the biopsy, even though he didn't think that my lump was cancerous. Better I know now, then postpone possible treatment if it was cancerous. Um, dude? I'm sitting here half naked. I think I'm on board with the biopsy. Second, he asked if he could bring his resident in. Um, sure. Great... here's another man to see my boob. So, in this tiny room, there was Lisa, my ultrasound tech, and two male doctors. They numbed me up (I got to watch the whole thing on the ultrasound machine, since that's what they were using to guide the needle) and of course, I started shaking and getting cold. I get this reaction to topical anesthetics all the time. THE WHOLE THING WAS OVER IN TEN MINUTES and I didn't feel anything. I went for my first mammogram afterwards, and it was nothing. There is nothing to be afraid of there. Then, they sent me home with a cute little ice pack that would fit inside of my bra. I was told that my results would be back within 7-10 days.

I admit that I'm a little sore, and that my skin glue isn't the prettiest thing I've ever seen, but when I got that phone call this morning from Lisa the nurse telling me that my fibroadenoma is BENIGN, I couldn't help but smile from ear to ear. That is the best news ever. I have to go back in six months for an ultrasound, but other than that, I'm in the clear. I'm relieved beyond belief.

So, why I am sharing all this with you? Mainly because I didn't think this could happen to me. No one in my family has ever had breast cancer. I'm still young. I'm getting healthier. I exercise regularly. But when I saw that lump two weeks ago... my world stopped for all of two hours while I allowed myself to freak out. Then I moved on, did what I had to do to make sure it wasn't cancer, and now I can tell you that you need to do the same. I read somewhere that the average woman takes six months to bring herself to the doctor after she has found a lump. WHAT??? Those 48 hours before I was able to see my PCP was hell. I wanted to know. And you should feel the same. So PLEASE do self breast exams monthly. It doesn't matter if you're 20, 30, or over 40. It doesn't matter if you have no family history of breast cancer. I didn't, and I'm glad that statistics were on my side, and that I'm sitting here knowing that I'm healthy. Don't wait to start caring about your boobies. Do it now.


Chantelle said...

Oh what a stressful fortnight you've had.

I'm glad it's all good news. xx

Manuela said...

I went through the same thing a few years ago and went straight to the doctor. I also have no history but read an awful lot so I have always been good about checking myself in the shower.

I had a similar result to yours but was so glad that I didn't wait. I had a friend who lost his mother because she didn't want to find out she had cancer.

Fear is a terrible thing but lack of action even worse.

Thanks for sharing this!

RooBabs said...

What a stressful, crazy experience you've been through! And to think, we were none the wiser.

Thanks for sharing- it is very important to be aware of our bodies, and of what we should do if anything changes.

I had a small lump a few months back, but waited a couple months, because some days it felt different than others, and some days I couldn't feel lit at all. Finally I got it checked just in case. I had to do an ultrasound (which was certainly not as cozy as yours- but I won't go into it), and at that time, they found that it was just normal breast tissue that was kind of "lumpy". The next month it was gone again, and I haven't felt it since. But luckily I keep doing those monthly exams.

Thanks again for sharing (and congrats on hitting your 50-lb goal!!!!!!! I can't wait to read all about it).

Kristina said...

It is so great that you are healthy! Go figure this all happened AFTER you start taking care of yourself. Either way, it's good that you posted that statistic; I can't believe so many women wait. It really makes you think about how we let fear control us sometimes. You rock for taking initiative and finding the truth ASAP!
Btw, Congrats on the loss!

carla said...

thank G-D.

and thank YOU for sharing this.

here's hoping you have a good weekend...can not see how you wont after that news.

xo xo,


Cammy said...

I'm so thankful for the good results!

About 20 years ago, I had a similar experience, only I had the lumpectomy. All was well but the experience was certainly sobering.

c said...

I'm so glad to hear everything is okay! You are a great role model for going to the doctor ASAP and how to get through the waiting period. Thanks so much for sharing with all of us!

Erin said...

I'm so glad that you are healthy and that everything came back normal! I can't imagine all the stress you have been going throught. I'm glad that everything is well.

Angie Eats Peace said...

Thank goodness everything is ok! And thanks for reminding us all to touch our boobies :)

KK said...

Thank you for sharing this. I am glad everything turned out A-OK!