I found a lump in my breast.
It could be nothing – Dear God, I hope it’s nothing. Please let it be nothing! – but it could be something. And if it’s something, then it will be my very worst fear come true.
My mother died of breast cancer at the age of 31, just one year after diagnosis. Hers was an advanced and aggressive cancer; her doctors offered her little hope. But she took what little they offered her and fought bravely for a year for us, for my dad, my sister, and me. She battled hair loss and weight gain and nausea and everything else that goes with being a cancer patient, and when she finally succumbed to death, she was smiling.
I am not as brave as my mother.
Finding a lump in my breast – and worse, finding I had cancer – has always been my deepest fear. I grew up without a mother and I don’t want that for my own children. I know that even if I did die before they were grown that they would not face the same challenges I faced, but that is of little comfort to me.
I want to see my children grow into happy, responsible, productive adults. I want to see my grandchildren someday. I want to be able to enjoy my retirement years with my husband and do some of the things I’ve always dreamed of doing. I want to travel. But if, like my mother, I succumb to cancer at an early age, I won’t get to do any of those things.
I went to the doctor this morning; I found the lump on Saturday, so I had to wait till today to get in. Talk about a long weekend! I love my doctor; she and her nurse both took my concerns very seriously. The doctor found some thickening and decided that I should have some tests done, so she set me up for a diagnostic mammogram and an ultrasound on Friday morning. She didn’t detect the lump that Seymour found, but even he said that it was so small he almost didn’t find it. She said that pain is good, because it could just be a cyst, which would be nothing, and that cancer doesn’t usually present with pain.
I hope she’s right. If it has to be anything, a non-cancerous cyst is something I could handle. I think. I mean, it’s better than cancer, right? Right. So.
On the other hand, she told the nurse to refer to the thickening as a questionable mass when scheduling my tests, and that freaked me the hell out. Questionable mass? That definitely sounds bad.
I don’t wait well. I’m trying not to give myself an ulcer. It’s not working.
Well, trying to keep my mind off things today has been…interesting. It’s the second day of my new job; you’d think I’d have all I can handle. And I do. But there are those down times, and moments where I’m not as busy, and then it’s the first thing to pop into my mind. I want to talk about it, yet I don’t. I want to call up my sister, who won’t talk to me under normal circumstances, and say, “Look, I don’t care how you do it, but you need to be checked out. Get the test done and figure out how to pay for it later.” But that won’t happen; she’ll never speak to me again.
I’m so tired. I want to just sleep straight through till Friday so that I don’t have to think about this anymore, or at least not until I know something more and know whether or not I should really be worried, or if I’m just completely overreacting. Every time I look at my kids, I just want to hug them and squeeze them and never let them go, never, never, never. I think how my mom must have felt looking at my sister and me and knowing that her time with us was growing short, and I wonder if I am in the same boat – am I nearing the end of my time with my children? Dear God, I hope not. I can’t bear the thought of not seeing them grow up.
I managed not to think about things too much yesterday. Well, except for an email I sent a friend about what’s been going on. And a phone call from another friend, one of my oldest, where I spilled the beans. And a text convo with another friend who I was going to tell but didn’t because we were talking about her abcessed tooth. But otherwise…
Today, though? This morning I was listening to my George Strait station on Pandora while I fixed food to take to a Fourth of July party. Every other song seemed to have me thinking about it. I found myself almost in tears on a couple of occasions as I tried (and failed) to get the deviled eggs right. It’s been just at the back of my thoughts all day today, even as I tried to enjoy myself with family. I just can’t stop thinking.
Maybe I’m just massively overreacting. Maybe it really is nothing; it doesn’t hurt anymore, at least not like it did Saturday. I’m glad it stopped hurting, but it hasn’t stopped me worrying. Thank goodness those tests are in the morning – I don’t think I could stand having to wait any longer. I hope the results will be in quickly.
Everything came back normal! I went to the hospital this morning and had the mammogram and ultrasound that my doctor ordered Monday. It seemed to take forever, and I don’t know if it was because they were actually that busy or because I was so nervous. We had to wait for the doctor to finish a biopsy on someone before she came to see us and in the end, she recommended that I have an annual mammogram followed up six months later with an annual MRI, just to make sure everything is on the up-and-up. I’m at high risk for developing breast cancer, which I already knew, but the doctor told me that according to my history, my risk is at 43% and anything over 20% is considered high. She also said that if I have the BRCA gene (which I don’t know and don’t care to know), then my risk jumps into the 60-80% range.
But our camping trip started today and I decided that we were going to have fun if it killed us, so I bought a bottle of bubbly and we opened it after supper. Seymour gave the best toast ever: “To negative results.”
May my results for these sorts of things always be negative.
I don’t normally get into issues here. And I struggled with the decision to post this. But this is a very personal topic for me and it affects so many women around the world. I hope that by sharing what I spent a couple of weeks dealing with, it will inspire people to do regular self-exams and see their doctors annually. I hope I’ve at least encouraged someone, somewhere to educate themselves on what to look out for. After all, it could have been so much worse and for too many people, it is.
May your results for these sorts of things always be negative, too.
(c) 2013. All rights reserved.
- Breast Cancer the Beginning – and Day 1 (stoptosmellthetulips.wordpress.com)
- Benign Mammogram Findings (mammographykc.com)
- When to Worry About Breast Lumps (everydayhealth.com)
- What Are The Insurance Consequences If Your Doctor Orders A “Diagnostic” Mammogram? (theinsurancebarn.wordpress.com)