NBD, Just Writing About Breasts

by Roo on August 11, 2014

in healthy living, heavier things, mallory the midwife, storytelling

One night not too long ago, I stretched out on my bed and started thinking about Amanda. She’s well liked in the blogging space, we’ve met a few times, and she was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. At the age of 32.

Remember years ago when girls were posting random colors as their Facebook statuses? “Pink!” “Black!” “Tan!” “Invisible! ;)” Many were posting the colors of their bras for the sake of breast cancer awareness. I majorly eye-rolled at that (seriously, who are we helping?)  and I’ve sort of eye-rolled at every pink item I’ve seen since. I get the pink shirts and I get the pink ribbon magnets, maybe. But pink pepper spray? Pink power drills? Pink Kentucky Fried Chicken buckets?

“Why…” I asked in hushed tones, realizing how incredibly wrong it sounded “…are we still doing this? Who is not aware that breast cancer exists? How many pink things do we actually need? Who needs awareness? ”

Apparently, I do! As I thought about Amanda, I realized it’d been quite awhile since I did a self-exam, and I’ve relied entirely too much on that yearly exam to be enough. So I did one, right then, and felt a lump in my left breast. I admonished myself with a “WELL I FEEL DUMB NOW,” grabbed my phone and texted Mallory the Midwife to see if she was in the office within the next week.

~*BrEaSt eXaM TiMe!!*~ Maybe your OB/Gyn practice is like mine, and puts posters of cute animals on the ceiling to distract you while you’re getting a pelvic exam. “Oh look at the little pengu — GUUUUUIINNNN hngngggg.”

NBD, Just Writing About Breasts

“I feel it. Let’s get you set up with an ultrasound.” I asked Mallory some questions, particularly about research I found that said that lumps are really common, and 80% of them are benign.

“Yes, in fact, I’d say at your age, that number is probably closer to 95%. I’ve actually only ever felt breast cancer two times. Keep in mind though, that most of my patients are my age or younger. I just think it’s always good to get an ultrasound.”

I put off calling for a couple of days, but the office was having none of that, so they called me and scheduled an appointment for the next morning. They don’t mess around. I had decided to not tell people about it, because it seemed uneventful. The stats were in my favor, and I felt like nothing was cause for alarm. Jack would have breakfast with the girls in the morning and take them to camp, and I would head off to my ultrasound. At around 7p, the night before, I suddenly got a little nervous, and texted Sunnie. “Hey, NBD, I have a breast ultrasound tomorrow morning and it’s mostly likely nothing, but I’m suddenly a little nervous? Are you working?”

Sunnie arrived at my appointment before I did, chai and a muffin in hand. Everyone needs a Sunnie.

My appointment was at the Breast Center at Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale. It’s a lovely, highly-praised facility, and I knew I’d be in good hands. (HA! GET IT?! Sorry.) I was led to a little room where I could change into a robe. The rooms are nice, not too sterile-feeling, and if it wasn’t for the distinct smell of disinfectant, the fluorescent lighting, and the fact that I was still wearing pants, it would be almost spa-like. I sat and did a little waiting with Sunnie in a small room with other women in robes.

NBD, Just Writing About Breasts

“I’m only a tiny bit nervous, but you know.. when I get nervous.. I sometimes tell really bad jokes or make inappropriate observations.”

“Hmmm.”

“Like today I was thinking… [inappropriate comment]”

“Yeah, that was… really bad. Okay, here’s what I want you to do. When you go in there, don’t say anything. Just focus on breathing. But, uh, don’t talk.”

“I told you.”

A nurse walked up to us and said, “Are you Roo? Come with me. I need to talk to you” in a super stern You’re going to the principal’s office now voice. I panic briefly. She sits me in another room.

“I see the order for an ultrasound, but we’re going to have to do a mammogram, too.”

“A mammogram??” Mammograms are for women over 40, right?

“Yes. You need a mammogram to go with this ultrasound, since you’re over 30. We do mammograms for people over 30 when they come to the Breast Center. I’ll call your doctor’s office, but I think they’ll also suggest that we do a mammogram since you’re over 30.”

SAY I’M OVER 30 ONE MORE TIME. “Oh, okay.” She brings me back to the waiting room and I fill Sunnie in, who had also panicked slightly, because a stern “I need to talk to you” from a stranger is a little ominous, you know?

Okay, cool. So I’m having a mammogram. “I hear these hurt,” I tell the nurse.

“No, they’re just slightly uncomfortable.”

LOL NO. They’re like getting your breasts caught in an elevator door. I mean, it’s bearable, but your underwear riding up is slightly uncomfortable. A strapless bra is slightly uncomfortable. A mammogram does not feel great, but it’s fine. Important! Get ‘em! Thankfully, it was over soon. Back to the waiting room. Ultrasound tech brings me to the ultrasound room.

“The radiologist looked at the images from the mammogram, and she’d like me to do an ultrasound of your right breast, too.” Which seems a little weird, because the lump is in my left breast, but why not, right? I’m here, and my shirt’s already off, so…

The ultrasound – if you’ve not had one – doesn’t hurt at all. It’s a dark room and you’re lying down and I could have easily fallen asleep. When she was finished, the radiologist and the resident came in to do one, too.

“You felt the lump in your left breast, is that correct?”

“Yes.”

“The lump in your left breast is actually a cluster of cysts, completely benign. Nothing to worry about.”

“Great.”

“But there is a tumor in your right breast.”

“Oh?”

“And it’s probably benign.”

“Probably?”

“Yes. It looks like a fibroadenoma. Totally normal for women your age. We’ll just monitor it and have you come back in six months for another ultrasound. There’s an increased risk of breast cancer in women that have tumors, but we don’t think you have anything to worry about.”

“Oh… cool.”

So then we talked a little bit about genetic testing. My mom had ovarian cancer fairly young, and my cousin was diagnosed with uterine cancer very, very young. Ovarian and breast cancer are directly linked, and now studies show that uterine and breast cancer are also linked. We discussed a little bit about how my family history likely puts me at an increased risk for all three, but it’s not sure how increased. Genetic counseling could help with that. The radiologist gave me the number for a genetic counselor.

“She’s Russian, but she speaks English.”

“Good, because my Russian’s actually a little rusty.” (SORRY, SUNNIE. They both laughed, though? Pity laugh, maybe?)

NBD, Just Writing About Breasts

They gave me a sheet with information from the day, and checked off the box that said “Probably benign. More monitoring needed.” Fibroadenomas are totally normal in women ages 15 to 35, so I’m not worried about it at all. I’m sure many of you will be able to weigh in and put others at ease “Yeaaa fibroadenomas! Me too!”

I’m glad for all of the info, because it’s lit a fire under me to be more proactive about my health. Mallory called me and we talked some more about some testing, and I called my insurance company to get things in motion. I wanted to write out this (long, probably boring) blog post to relay a couple of messages.

1) Check yo self. One a month is great. Here’s a handy (PUN!) chart.
2) Now that I’m in my thirties, there are more things with which I need to be aware. I could get away with being careless at 18. It’s probably time to be a little bit more responsible. A gentle reminder to schedule your yearly exam if it’s been awhile.
3) Ultrasounds and mammograms are NBD. I mean, mammograms don’t feel great, but neither do dental checkups or lace thongs. Bring a Sunnie if you’re feeling nervous.
4) Not everything is fool-proof. As much as I disliked the mammogram, I’m so glad I had it. Even with the breast exams, we wouldn’t have discovered the tumor in my right breast without it. It even went undetected with the first pass on the ultrasound with the ultrasound tech.
5) It’s your right to advocate for yourself. I could call Mallory and say, “Hey.. you know I’m not feeling so great about waiting a full six months. Can we do a check in three?” and she’d be happy to talk about that option with me.

Want to read more about yearly pelvic exams? Check out The Virtues of Paper Gowns. Want to read more about being ovarian cancer aware? (I highly recommend; symptoms are completely non-specific. Over 60% of women who are diagnosed are already in Stage 3.) Check out Weighty. Waiting.

Cool. Being aware is cool. Still not buying a pink visor, though. Comeonyouguys.

{ 51 comments… read them below or add one }

Rebecca | Seven2Seven8 August 11, 2014 at 1:21 pm

Oh Roo. I’m glad it’s likely benign, and none of this is fun. I swear I knew and understood that aging has its downfalls (things falling apart and consequences of random gene strings or prior bad decisions being chief among them), but UGH. I had my first colonoscopy (benign polyp) at 33 and my first ultrasound (all clear) at 35 (thanks, infertility meds, for the “inconsistent” boobs). I wasn’t “supposed” to have these things yet. And yet, so very glad I have because knowledge, especially early knowledge, strongly correlates with more and better options for attacking bad news and having a story to tell on the other side. And it absolutely is worth it for those things. Everything’s crossed and prayers and good thoughts are winging your way. You got this.

FWIW, while I wouldn’t describe either the mammogram (procedure) or colonoscopy (prep) as pleasant, they are most certainly bearable, and I have no dread about repeating either one (some sooner than others, thanks to the polyp).

Boobs and butts. We’re covering a lot of ground today.

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Roo August 11, 2014 at 1:25 pm

I mean we could talk about crotches and round out this whole sesh. :)

I think they *have* to say “probably” benign when they really mean “It’s totally benign.” I fully expect to go back and have them say “yeah, this is fiiiine” but my sister-in-law (who has been fighting breast cancer) thinks I should just have it biopsied.

And yes! I should clarify that the mammogram was absolutely bearable. Going back to see if I need to re-word.

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Rebecca | Seven2Seven8 August 11, 2014 at 2:13 pm

Well, you kind of mention crotches with the pelvic exam. We’ll count that, ‘k? ;)

Needle biopsies scare me. But needles scare me. I’ve reached a tentative truce with them where we agree to co-exist for the sake of my health and family goals, but otherwise, I give them room and ask they do the same for me. FWIW, I got that you found the mammogram bearable. I did a special machine that does 4-D imaging for an extra $20, and I wonder if I was less pancaked than normal, because I was actually surprised it wasn’t more uncomfortable. Cold plates, a little dignity slap, but otherwise, bearable.

Thinking good thoughts, Roo!

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Kathryn August 11, 2014 at 1:27 pm

Thanks so much for sharing this! I’m 25 and up until this point I’ve never ever gone for any check without it being mandatory, as in, we’ll withhold your birth control if you don’t get your vag checked out. K, fine, geeze!
But I had 2 kids back to back (so much for that birth control) and now I’m realizing that I’m not doing my job as their mother if I’m not doing everything I can to stay healthy. I’m terrible about breast exams, but this was a good kick in the pants…er, boob, to make them a part of my routine.

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Roo August 11, 2014 at 1:29 pm

Ha! Yes, feel ‘em, girl!

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Alana August 11, 2014 at 1:36 pm

LIKE GETTING YOUR BREAST CAUGHT IN AN ELEVATOR. Such truths!

Thanks for sharing. Hoping you get quick results with good news.

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Krystyn @ Really, Are You Serious? August 11, 2014 at 1:37 pm

So glad you went and got yourself felt up. I had to do the boob ultrasound in college. Totally freaked me out.

They told me that the fibroid thingies are often linked to caffeine intake, too. Which didn’t really apply to me since I don’t do caffeine, but for what it’s worth.

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Rebecca | Seven2Seven8 August 11, 2014 at 2:15 pm

Linked to caffeine? Eep.
::puts down the coffee cup, backs away, then goes back over to pick it up because can’t stop the coffee::

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Rachel August 11, 2014 at 6:12 pm

When I was at uni one of my boobs got massive – as in I was padding out half my bra daily to make up the 2-3 cup size difference. I went to the GP, who sent me to the breast clinic, where I was told that it was caffeine causing the problem (it was exam time, the intake had increased!) and to cut it out. Evening Primrose Oil will counteract the caffeine but can react with some medications. Nowadays the only caffeine I have is in chocolate and my boobs are lump free and symmetrical.

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Michelle @ Ten June August 11, 2014 at 2:26 pm

Really, really, such a good post. As a just-over-30-year-older, I needed to read this. Sending to all my friends. Thanks, Roo!

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Roo August 11, 2014 at 4:07 pm

Just over 30! That’s what I’m labeling myself, I guess. :) Welcome to the club, and have fun doing breast exams! (That sounds so weird. You know what I mean.)

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Kaitlyn August 11, 2014 at 2:32 pm

Girlllll I feel you. I had my first fibroid at 13, had it removed at 20 because it started to grow, and then had another one a year later. Both were biopsied and considered “probably fine” but grew fast enough that action needed to be taken.

It’s SUCH A PAIN and completely nerve-racking, but you did the right thing and are obviously on the right track. I have heard the caffeine rumor too, but I think everyone’s body is so different and reacts to things differently (caffeine, birth control, hormones in food, etc.) that it’s hard to really have a cause behind it. Just keep doin what you’re doin – it’ll all turn out alright girl. :) :) :)

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Laurie August 11, 2014 at 2:36 pm

Having recently been diagnosed and treated for uterine cancer, I’d like to chime in with “if anything is funky, get it checked out!”

All this breast cancer awareness has made it a lot easier to discuss boobs but no one wanted me to discuss my wonky periods. I didn’t really want to talk about them either but they were making my life miserable. In fact, I didn’t get it checked out for ages because I couldn’t schedule an appointment when I wasn’t having a period and ew, who wants to present that to a doc?

There is no history of cancer in my family but when I finally sucked it up and did the unpleasant, they found cancer and I’m so lucky they found it when they did. I’m not considered young but who thinks, “I’m old enough for cancer now.”

Embarrassment shouldn’t be something that threatens our health or lives! So my pitch should be, in addition to making sure the mamms are good, if you are having any period issues, irregularity, clots, etc. Get it checked out. And keep getting it checked out as you age. I talked with docs in the past about this but when they didn’t seem concerned, I wasn’t and I only just found out that those funky periods could be related to cancer later. If I had known that, I would have been more diligent and less squeamish.

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Amanda August 11, 2014 at 2:41 pm

Oh Roo. I’m so glad you’re telling your story, and thank you for sharing a bit about mine. I, too, am thrilled you’re looking at benign…but I’m also with you SIL about having biopsied. Love you girl. Thanks for being such a force.

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Liz August 11, 2014 at 2:51 pm

I was just wondering, what did the lump feel like? I tend to be a hypochondriac so pretty much everything in my body feels like a lump to me.

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Roo August 11, 2014 at 3:06 pm

Great question. I could feel all sides of it, if that makes sense. Like if I go to feel my breast now, I can put two fingers on either side it to show you where it is.

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Liz August 13, 2014 at 9:49 am

That totally makes sense. Thanks!

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Kirby August 11, 2014 at 3:17 pm

I am so glad you wrote about this. My aunt was diagnosed with Breast Cancer at 35, Ovarian Cancer runs in my mothers family and Leukemia in my father’s family. Scary, def checking myself. When’s the best time to “CHECK YO’SELF” Midwife Mallory?

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Amanda K August 11, 2014 at 3:28 pm

Great post, Roo! My mom had breast cancer at 43, but she’s been in remission for almost 20 years now. My doctor plans to start me on annual mammograms at 35. Only 3 years til the boob squishing begins!

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Heather August 11, 2014 at 3:37 pm

Such an important topic for everyone, especially the young ladies! I also found a lump (by accident) this year, and it turns out that it is breast cancer…also at 32…while nursing an 8 month old. I don’t mean to be all, “Wah wah wah!” but it’s no fun. Luckily, I found mine at a stage one, but I could have just as easily not found it until so much later because I rarely did self exams.

I’m sure that your tumor is benign; they really are so common. But I’m with your sister-in-law (and I know it’s really none of my business whatsoever). Biopsy, baby. If it’s nothing, now you know. If it’s not, you treat asap!

Here’s my story if anyone’s interested. http://www.invasiveducttales.com/

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Raychel August 11, 2014 at 3:43 pm

Hi Roo! Glad you are talking about this. When I was in high school I felt a rather large lump in my left breast (it must be a left breast thing). I didn’t ever say anything about it because my gyn never said anything about it. I figured she felt it and could tell it was nothing. Finally, at age 22, I asked my gyn to feel it. She felt it and I was also set up for an ultrasound. The first one took the longest and not just one fibroid tumor was found, but 4!!! I had no idea. The one I could feel was about an inch square so that’s why it was so easy to find. I had to go every 6 months for 24 months. I finally finished my last ultrasound in January. I know where all 4 are now and make sure to feel around for any changes. My insurance only pays for one breast ultrasound every 12 months, so I’ve had to have a lawyer on my case with the hospital, but that has probably been the only inconvenience of the whole thing! I was very glad to have the peace of mind, but it is very scary going in there and not knowing what they are going to find. Doctors are kinda scary too…like after one of my ultrasounds, the tech said, “Ok, well I am going to take you to a private room and the doctor will talk to you.” Obviously this meant I had cancer. I waited in agony (still in my robe) and the doctor came in and said (I kid you not), “Your breast tissue looks beautiful!” BAHA. So for all the other ladies out there- don’t be alarmed if they want to whisk you away to another room. For the person who was asking what the tumor felt like- my big one feels hard and it is moveable. The littler ones feel hard and like little tiny balls, also moveable. When I say moveable I don’t mean I can make it wander all around, just a little bit if I press on it in different spots.

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Marcela August 11, 2014 at 4:24 pm

Hi Roo, I had a similar experience myself and it definitely opened my eyes to how important this is! My grandmother is a breast cancer survivor so when my doctor felt a lump in my left breast when I was 23, I immediately freaked. I had an ultrasound done and I remember the doctor called me into this room with other doctors to tell me they’d like to biopsy it. The biopsy was pretty painless, I just felt a little pressure. They also inserted a small metal place marker and called it a fibroadenoma. I got checked about every 6 months and did monthly exams myself at home. I noticed it started to grow a bit and all I could do was think about it. I finally made an appointment for a consultation for removal. The doctor was very encouraging and thought it was a good idea since it was growing and it was starting to hurt from time to time. Surgery was a scary thing for me and I wanted to avoid it at all costs, but this was going to give me a little bit of piece of mind so I went through with it. The day of is a blur since I was completely put out. Now I have a pretty ugly scar to remind me of it. The “lump” was biopsied again after it was removed and they still call it a fibroadenoma, but I was told that one side of it is a little questionable and could grow again. This thought doesn’t scare me anymore. If anything, it has made me feel more empowered to take care of my body and to start talking about the things that women are afraid to talk about. Cancer is a very real thing.

Ladies, do self exams! If you’re not sure what you’re feeling, go to the doctor!

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Alexandra August 11, 2014 at 10:52 pm

Marcela — I had the same exact experience (except surgery — getting there after my next appt). I went into the biopsy thinking it was nothing but it totally rocked my world. As a stomach sleeper, I strongly considered cutting 2 large circular holes in my mattress. So happy to hear you went through with the surgery. As it is elective, I have felt at times that I am crazy to do it, but like you said, it is constantly on my mind and I will just feel better when it’s gone. Thanks for being an internet soul sista!

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Erma August 11, 2014 at 4:42 pm

“They’re like getting your breasts caught in an elevator door.” —- I think I just felt the female version of hearing about a guy getting kicked in the nuts.

So I really thought I could get by for another 10 years but you’re right, I totally should be aware as a “just over 30″er.

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Roo August 11, 2014 at 5:55 pm

Ahh yeah, so cringey. I can’t tell if I’d rather face that or a date with a speculum, though.

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Julie August 11, 2014 at 6:14 pm

I know… I’m an oldie. I went for my first this spring at 40. Love the metaphor. So true.

I’m with the SIL. Get it checked further. Better to know than not know, right? So impressed with you for checking your boogies. Boonies. Boobies.

What? I had to keep the auto corrects because they had me laughing.

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Janine August 11, 2014 at 6:51 pm

Hate that in Australia it is still only pushed that breast cancer is for the over 40’s. If you have breasts…. you should get regular checks. Just stop thinking you’re too young. My sister passed away 12 years ago from Inflammatory Breast Cancer. Diagnosed at 28, yes 28! Was in remission for a couple of years but died at 32…… I wish the media didn’t mention anything about age as it makes women disillusioned to think it doesn’t apply to them.

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Lauren @ Faith and Macaroni August 11, 2014 at 8:55 pm

Eep. I’ll toss up a few prayers that you get an “Extra super definitely benign” box checked on the next one.
And it’s been almost a year since my kiddo was born, so I probably ought to hoof it to my midwife in the next few weeks and make sure I’m squared away for the next year. Thanks for the reminder.

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Rebecca August 11, 2014 at 9:55 pm

Hey, kudos for getting on that and checking it out! I also had a lump when I was very young, it was due to hormones. Never had it since. Three years ago though, I drove myself to emergency in utter pain–turns out I had a very large orange-sized cyst that was knocking my right ovary around. I know I definitely talked to my ob/gyn about feeling excessive (to me) pain right before a period. She told me it was nothing to be worried about–the thing was that I had never had that much pain before a period before, but being young, I didn’t think anything of it and trusted wholeheartedly. Always, always, always, follow up! Even if you’re think you’re being a nuisance. :-) Hope everything turns out okay, Roo!!

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Monica Lynn August 11, 2014 at 10:40 pm

Word up. I have used the “check yo self!” line so much that I forget how to actually say it in real life, but it doesn’t sound as cool coming from me as it does from you. You should totally do the genetic testing. I tested positive for the BRCA1 genetic mutation. It comes with a ton of scary numbers like a really high lifetime risk of breast and ovarian cancer. Like so high that there’s only a small chance you won’t get it. But knowing is the best part because there are lots of things you can do to bring it down to a normal persons risk, like tiny risk. But you have to know before you can do anything about it, right? That being said I am super aware of any little thing in the booby department. That’s why I wander around the world saying “feel your boobs!” and “check yo self!” far more often than the average white girl. Anyhoo. Let me know if you want to know more about the genetic test and such. A genetic counselor is the best place to start, but I can hook you up with a lot of good places to get more info and ask bizzilions of questions. Let us know when you get the official word so we can do a “woot for benign tumors” happy dance for ya.

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Roo August 12, 2014 at 7:45 am

Am I dumb? I’ve already starting woot-ing! So, on one hand, I’m aware that my doctor has told me that I am a chronic “minimizer” so I tend to gloss over medical concerns, BUT my research on fibroadenomas tell me I should already be woot-ing! Shouldn’t I?

I’d actually love to talk to you about testing positive for BRCA1. Are you up for an email exchange? :D :D :D

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Monica Lynn August 12, 2014 at 3:01 pm

Love to! And the way I see it, you can feak out for six months or you can be optimistic for six months. There is no harm in wooting, unless it causes you to take risks like not getting a follow up check up. Either way, the same thing is going on in your body whether you woot! or you eek! I love talking about BRCA. Wierd I know, but there is so much to know and all the scary stuff comes up first, so I like to talk about the good stuff so people know that there is still happiness and hope around too! I shared part of my BRCA story here http://domesticartistry.blogspot.com/2013/10/legacy-my-brca-story.html and here http://domesticartistry.blogspot.com/2013/10/legacy-heritage-of-hereditary-cancer.html, but I’d love to email chat with you too.

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Alexandra August 11, 2014 at 10:47 pm

Can I tell you a year ago I went through the same thing and thought my world was over. At 27, being told you have a tumor and need a biopsy is scary stuff, especially when you have breast cancer on both sides of the family. So after WebMD’ing my problem (which of course told me I was pregnant ,,, because it’s WebMD), I called for an appointment. At the time, I didn’t have insurance so “biopsy”, “ultrasound”, “appointments every 3 months for 2 years” sounded very expensive. So my doc hooked me up with a number for a social worker at the hospital who took care of EVERYTHING. I was like WHATTTTTT in my best Aziz voice. Turns out, all that money for pink errrything goes to Susan G Komen and they hook it up. Now, I donate to any person on Facebook that asks for donations for breast cancer walks/fundraisers/whatever. So, after all that nonsense, all the 21 year old I go to college with (yes, I am STILL in college) saw my missing classes for appointments, I told them what happened, and a dozen of them promptly saw doctors. So thanks so so so much for posting so we all realize just how common this stuff is, even to our internet land friends.

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Anna August 12, 2014 at 9:44 am

Roo! I am so happy to hear that everything is okay. That must have been quite a scary experience though. Thank you for sharing it with us as it has definitely served as an important reminder to take care of yourself. All I want to do is to feel up my boobs now. But, I should probs excuse myself from my desk at the office before starting, right? *BIG HUG!* xxxoxoxo

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Amy @ Dusty's Sister August 12, 2014 at 3:00 pm

Slightly unrelated, but you’re whole “take care of yourself and your health” message just inspired me to schedule my first dental appointment in probably two years. Thanks for sharing your story! I had a similar experience a few months ago, and only did the self exam after a friend of mine had found a lump herself. Luckily we both had good results and no serious scares.

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Amy E. August 19, 2014 at 3:09 pm

dentist… not looking forward to that one. it’s been 4 years for me… AND i still have (and definitely need to get rid of) my wisdom teeth.

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Trude August 12, 2014 at 5:06 pm

Thanks for sharing this! I had to have an ultrasound two years ago (at the age of 29), and it scared the hell out of me (and was expensive too). My doctor had warned me it was just for extra precaution, and it turned out to be fibrocystic lumps (they flare up when you’re hormonal and are totally normal), but still you can’t help but think. Especially when I have uterine and ovarian cancer on both sides of the family. So ditto on prevention and testing!

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Sunnie August 12, 2014 at 11:29 pm

This is a great piece of writing about such an important topic. I don’t know how you made a post about mammograms funny, but you pulled it off! (Also, thanks for the compliment! xoxo)

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Raven17 August 13, 2014 at 7:43 am

So glad everything is ok and sorry you had to go through it. I’m glad you have your Sunnie. :0) Those Sunnies are extremely important. Take care of you!!

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Roo August 14, 2014 at 10:52 am

Haha definitely grateful for a Sunnie!

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Jess August 13, 2014 at 1:34 pm

You may want to read this:http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/03/03/experts-say-avoid-mammograms.aspx

I’m also for modern medicine when it comes to saving lives, but cancer is a disease that is all too often caused my modern ways of living, modern medicine (yes, that’s right), and our modern way of eating. I know of friends who were healed of various cancers without any medical intervention, but chose to change their diets, seek alternative methods, and opted for light therapy versus radiation, which kills everything good in the body…no wonder so many people die of “cancer” what they’re actually dying from in many cases is the radiation poisoning, not the cancer itself.

The cancer cure that worked is an excellent book to read to learn more about how to truly be healed of cancer….just in case. Radiation is bad stuff and those who do survive the treatments can suffer long-term health side effects later in life… I just can’t see any benefits to chemo because I know and have seen other more holistic methods work more effectively and more safely.

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Roo August 14, 2014 at 10:51 am

I’ve read similar, Jess, but I think I’d need to read on a site that isn’t mercola.com, etc. Curious to if you have a source for holistic methods. Would love to read.

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Virginie September 15, 2014 at 10:17 pm

I do not usually comment on these kind of issues.
I do understand your point of view. Yes, some people do live long and healthy lives and beat cancer without using any of the modern chemo and radiotherapy methods available.

However, I CANNOT let you discredit these methods so quickly.
My mother went through surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, and is now in her fifth year of remission from breast cancer.
My sister beat pediatric kidney cancer twenty years ago. It was bad. She was complaining of stomach ache, it wouldn’t go away, and when my mom took her to her GP he ordered that she be hospitalized that very day. She spent a year in the hospital, and these strong procedures saved her life.

Again, I am the first to advocate for a healthy lifestyle, for lowering one’s pills intake, for looking to other, more natural substances to heal. My sister did grow up to be an osteopath, after all.
And chemotherapy and radiotherapy are no run in the park. They hold a great power, and that is why they are so harsh on the human body. It is not pretty, it is not comfortable, and it certainly is not easy.
But cancer is not butterflies and rainbows. Cancer is nasty, and ugly, and terribly powerful.
Everyone is in charge of their own health choices, but sometimes, the options become slim. Sometimes, these destructive (oh yes they are) methods are the only weapon strong enough to overcome this ravaging disease.

I guess my point is that I hear too many people diminishing the work and expertise of healthcare professionals, doctors, researchers, that created chemotherapy and radiotherapy? People invoking the strength of God (I know it not your case, Jess), or food, or sport, as the only medicine that can work, for them – and for others.
Cancer is a terrible curse, and each cancer patient is unique. The treatment that will cure them is unique too. But let us not dismiss some of the strongest weapons we have against this disease, because in this fight, you will need all the weapons we can find.

[sorry for the rant! I had to let this out I guess. Thanks for the awesome blog, and the awesome open discussion, Roo]

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MissCaron August 13, 2014 at 1:57 pm

Oh Roo… ugh. Sucks. Glad it’s benign. My breasts are super fibrous so I’m always worried I’m going to overlook something but my doc said that I’d know. She checks me out at my yearly exam and says it’s all good. Scary though. XO

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Lex August 13, 2014 at 3:47 pm

Would really love to know if/why you decide to do the genetic counseling! Are you for sure going through with it?

I’ve been in the “high-risk for breast cancer” category since my first visit to the gyn about 15 years ago (WHY AM I SO OLD?), and started having biennial mammograms in my 20s. One of my best friends, unfortunately, is in the same category, and we have very different opinions about BRCA testing for ourselves- I’m against, she’s for- and I’m always curious to hear what others think.

BTW- I once had a mammogram in a room with a big window and a lovely panoramic view. It was actually pleasant, until I thought about the scene looking into the room. Hope they schedule window washers during non-business hours. :)

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Rachael August 13, 2014 at 10:45 pm

While you’re waiting, if you really want to get pissed about the over abundance of breast cancer awareness, I suggest you watch the documentary Pink Ribbons, Inc. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2035599/

The one that always gets me is The Pink Plumber (a chain of plumber franchises in the south that have pink ribbons on their trucks – http://www.thepinkplumber.com). Really dude, I’m supposed to call you because your truck is pink? I just need my toilet unclogged…

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Leslie August 19, 2014 at 2:37 pm

I went through a similar thing a little over a year ago. I was 32 at the time. I went in for my yearly and my OB found a small lump in my breast. I was also sent for an ultrasound/mammogram but I knew about both before hand. The mammogram was not the most comfortable but at least bearable. After the ultrasound I was left waiting in the room for about 45 minutes. At this point I was totally freaking out but the tech finally came back and told me that they were backed up and that was the reason for the long wait. My results also came back benign. I also had the BRCA testing done (I have some family history) and fortunatly am not a carrier of the gene.

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Amy E. August 19, 2014 at 2:55 pm

i had a fibroadenoma removed from my right breast at age 25. i think my mom was more freaked out about it than i was. i found out that a friend of mine the same age had beat me to the punch a year or so prior. i have a lovely picture of it after removal (some doctors/surgeons find gross things interesting and like to share apparently). (why i kept the picture is a mystery to me too.)

for those worried about how it affects breast feeding (i hadn’t had any kids yet when i found it and was still planning on doing so including giving them the free food goodness that the boobies provide), it doesn’t affect anything as long as the removal is done well. my surgeon was pretty awesome and used some pretty awesome technology to make my surgery very low impact to my boobage. the scar is hardly noticeable and i have no dimple from the removal of the tissue beneath the skin. i was able to breastfeed my daughter with both sides pretty much equally when she arrived less than a year after my surgery.

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Britiney August 20, 2014 at 11:49 pm

Seriously. Why do our boobs have to be so much trouble!?! I have a golf-ball sized cyst that I had aspirated and now it needs to be done again and I’m dreading it, but having a giant lump is such a downer! Way to go on getting checked. Mammos are such a drag!

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Catherine August 21, 2014 at 3:33 pm

Great post—long but definitely not boring! It’s a good reminder for everyone to grab those boobs.
My mom had advanced breast cancer at 39, so I know I’m at an increased risk. I’m still breastfeeding, which makes exams more difficult, but it’s something I’ll need to keep an eye/hand on all my life.
I hope you get the all-clear soon!

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Tiffani September 3, 2014 at 7:52 am

My mom felt a lump last month. It is breast cancer, she is only 53. Based on our family history of ovarian cancer and breast cancer I was told to immediately schedule a mammogram. I’ll be 34 next month, too young for them to recommend yearly mammograms, except for the whole Mom having cancer thing. When I first called they actually told me I was too young. I had to insist on the mammogram anyway. I’m fine. But will have to have yearly mammograms and also yearly paps. Cancer is the devil.

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