Sunday, October 27, 2013

Breast Cancer Awareness

Before this October, though I donated money to Breast Cancer Research, I never (thankfully) felt a personal connection to the disease that claims so many lives. I've been struggling with sharing this because although I post a lot on social media, I don't usually get really personal if there isn't a funny story behind it. For some reason though today, as I'm baking some oatmeal toffee cookies, I decided to sit down and write just in case this could help someone.

 I had my annual ob/gyn appointment the end of September. During the breast exam, I noticed a tender spot that I mentioned to my Doctor. We both didn't really feel a lump, but there was definitely a spot that was tender. Because it was in the same area that I had a MAJOR blockage in during my last marathon mastitis episode, my Doctor ordered a mammogram and a follow-up ultrasound of the area. (I had an ultrasound when I had the mastitis last October.) They initially offered me an appointment with the radiologist the very next day, but the following week worked better for my schedule, so I waited until October 1 to go.

I have to say, I was a little (a LOT) terrified of getting a mammogram. No one really wants to have their boob squished in between two metal plates. To be honest, it wasn't as bad as I had built it up in my head. The woman taking the images was really comforting and did her best to keep my mind off of the situation at hand.

 Next was the ultrasound. I was fortunate enough to have the same woman doing my ultrasound that did it last October during my mastitis. She had a baby since our last visit and we chatted during the exam. Unfortunately, I did keep peeking at the screen and could see a shape in the screen that did not look like the rest of the image. My heart definitely started beating a million miles a minute. She wrote up her report (and I could see the word MASS on the screen which did little to help my nerves). Then the radiologist came in to take another peek and give me the news. There was SOMETHING there. He really didn't go into much detail other than the fact that they wanted to biopsy it. The room seriously started spinning and I just basically nodded and tried to not cry. As soon as he left, the technician told me that 99.9% of these types of "things" were benign. Seeing as we just spent 20 minutes talking about our kids, she knew that the first thing I would worry about is being around for my kids. It calmed my nerves (a little) and I left and waited for the scheduler to contact me for my biopsy.

 During the next few days, I was a basket of nerves. Though I knew that 99.9% were nothing for me to worry about, what happens if I was that 0.01%? I tried my best to keep my mind off of it, but it was difficult to forget seeing that shape on the screen. It was 8 days until the biopsy was scheduled and during that time I had to wait, I began to worry about something new. A needle being stuck into my boob! Finally, it was the day of the biopsy. Again, I was fortunate to have two wonderful women taking care of me during the procedure. While confirming who I was, my date of birth and why I was there about 25 times, we cracked jokes about me skipping out on work to hang out and get my boob biopsied. Thankfully, they numbed me up pretty well so I barely could feel the actual needle, though the biopsy itself was a little painful. After it was over, I was a little nauseous and lightheaded though because I made myself look at the screen and watch the entire thing via ultrasound image. I just had to be sure that they biopsied the right "area" or I wouldn't be able to sleep. That probably, in retrospect, was not a wise decision as I am not the best when it comes to needles. I was able to resume normal activities within 24 hours, although I did get a bruise and felt like I got punched in the boob.

 I'm very happy to report that I do NOT have breast cancer. There IS something there that really isn't supposed to be, however, unless it starts to change, or really bother me, it can be left as is. I'll go back in 6 months for a followup ultrasound to make sure it hasn't changed in any way. To give a name to the "shape," it's called a fibroadenoma. Apparently, it's super common in young women (they all called me young so I'm going with it), although I never have heard of it.

 Today, I was fortunate enough to participate in a Kick for a Cure Event at RIT which featured 2 hours of Turbo Kick, Zumba and Bokwa taught by the wonderful Bounce Aerobics owners and other local instructors. Something about sweating it out with some awesome friends made me realize again how thankful I am that everything turned out OK for me. The reason that I struggled to share this, is because I haven't shared this with a lot of close friends and family. During the waiting game, I decided to not even share with my sisters (who I seriously share everything with - now that we are adults anyway) because I didn't want them to worry unnecessarily if it turned out to be nothing. I guess the reason that I opted to share today was because I want to remind women to do a breast exam every month. Before this month, I was not one to do it regularly, but you bet your butt that I'll be way more diligent now. I've been told that these fibroadenomas can develop in the other breast as well, though if I do encounter another lump or tender spot, I should not assume that it's the same thing and still get it checked! If you do notice a lump, or spot, call your doctor, schedule an appointment and get it checked out. Hopefully you will be able to have the same results that I did and maybe by sharing this story, you'll be a little less nervous!


  1. (((Hugs))) So glad that everything turned out fine!

  2. Michelle,
    You are so brave to share your experience with everyone! I am happy you are ok!