I found a lump in my breast.
I was hoping it was all in my head, and when I went to the doctor she would tell me, "You are crazy, there is absolutely nothing there." But guess what? It's there and about five strangers have felt me up in the past week to verify its presence. I've told them all about Keri and how I'm probably overreacting in light of her story---because I realize her case is a rarity and not the norm. Most of the time when a mammogram and ultrasound come back negative, you don't have cancer. Most of the time women in their 20's don't get breast cancer. But one of my best friends just so happens to be the exception to the rule. A year ago she was told her mammogram and ultrasound were negative, after she found a lump. Six months later: same results. One year after finding the lump [this past March] Keri followed her gut and demanded a biopsy. And now she has stage III cancer-- talk about a wake-up call.
I suppose you want to know details, right? Shortly after Keri's diagnosis, I started doing monthly breast self exams [and I hope you are, too!!] About a month ago I noticed a weird lump in my right breast. I felt it over and over again, wondering if it could be a lymph node, or a milk duct, or maybe even my pec muscle. Its shape is quite odd and is best compared to a tootsie roll. Just hold onto that mental image for a second: a tootsie roll is lodged inside my boob. Got it? Okay.
So I scheduled an appointment with the doctor, who referred me to get a mammogram, ultrasound, and a blood test. I was so incredibly nervous before my tests I almost broke down about three times, and my inner hypochondriac took over my life. What if it's cancer and it's spread throughout my whole body? Is that why my back hurts lately? If I die who is going to take care of my boys? I'm not ready to die yet, I have WAY too many things on my 'to-do' list!
Needless to say, I've been a bit distracted lately. I think I made that abundantly clear to Nate when I washed a load of laundry with the lid up----meaning it did not wash at all. He let that one slide without a sarcastic remark which means he loves me, in his own way. Well that and the extra hugs and kisses I've been getting lately, along with 'no reason flowers.' I NEVER get 'no reason flowers!'
The mammogram: the technician, Paula, is my new best friend. Seriously, she is a pimp and I love her. Immediately after feeling me up she said, "I feel it, but it's not scary to me. And I'm not going to call it a lump because it's more of a thickening." And this chic feels a lot of boobs for a living. As she smashed my girls into teeny little pancakes I asked her, "Don't you have a junior size machine for me somewhere? This one doesn't seem to fit right." But apparently transforming your womanly appendages into whoopie cushions is the goal and boy did she succeed. I swear to you, if I attempted to lower myself to the ground I would have hung by my boobs and died a slow death. But really, it wasn't so bad:) The results? My breasts are so young and densely fibrotic, they couldn't see anything. Which I guess means the test was negative for a mass but then again, I'm not sure they could see much anyway. Curse these young fibrotic breasts of mine!
The ultrasound: next came 'the dude whose name I don't remember.' He had an earring and has been in the business for thirty years, meaning he's seen a lot of boobs in his life, too. As he ran the probe over my suspicious area he said, "This is normal breast tissue. See here? This is glandular tissue and here is your fat pad." Okay, if you say so, dude. All I see is a bunch of black and white spots that all scream CANCER to me. But maybe that's just me being delusional again:) I told him that since my mammogram was null and void due to my 'young breasts', I was hoping the ultrasound would be more helpful. To which he responded, "Well yeah, but by the time we see anything on ultrasound it's usually really big." Great. Fantastic. Fabulous. The results? Ultrasound dude called in the doctor, who had a wicked lisp, to go over my results right then and there [my sanity thanks you for that one, doc]. He told me that both tests didn't show abnormal tissue. He suggested I keep a close eye on the area to watch for changes over the next few months. I think he could tell by my facial expression that I was still unsure, so he added, "You could always make an appointment with a general surgeon to discuss further options." When I straight up asked him if he suggested a biopsy he said, "No. The thickening is so large it would be difficult to assess without removing it, which would leave you without a chunk of your breast." [in laymens terms, I don't have much tissue to spare, so taking out a huge portion would leave me rather mangled.] What makes this statement really creepy is that Keri's original doctor told her the exact same thing after her negative mammogram and ultrasound last year. A little eerie, no?
I think the mammogram lady said it best: "If it wakes you up at night, and you can't get peace of mind, talk to a surgeon." After consulting my breast care counselor [a.k.a. Keri] I know I have to take the extra step and visit a surgeon. Keri's take home message has always been "You must biopsy every palpable mass" and it would be incredibly ignorant of me to stop after these tests. I realize that it's 'probably nothing.' I know that everything is going to be fine. But honestly, even if there is a 1% chance that it's 'something' why wouldn't I investigate it further?
So that is where we are now: I'm deciding which surgeon gets to deal with me:) Nate wants me to go to the big reputable hospital in our area, to find the best of the best surgeon around. And I have to agree---even though I was pleased with the staff at my little hospital---I should probably find a top dog to ease my mind. I'd prefer the general surgeon be a 'breast care specialist' so that they have lots of boobie experience, and if any of the Milwaukee girls have recommendations for me I'd gladly accept them.
As a side note, my inner tight wad and inner hypochondriac are battling it out in my head. On one hand I'm incredibly thankful that we have good medical insurance because this is exactly why we need it. There will still be some out-of-pocket costs [finishing out our deductible for the year] but Nate is being supportive and tells me this is some of the best money we'll spend. I suppose he's right because you can't put a price on peace of mind, or hearing that I DON'T have cancer. I know that is dramatic but that's me right now:)
Are you still with me after this mega post? Am I even making sense at this point? Thanks for hanging in there and wish me luck finding a surgeon! Now go and feel your boobs, for heaven's sakes!
[I promise we still had a fun holiday weekend, posts to follow. But this needed to come first.]