The month I turned 30, I had the most unexpected thing happen to me – I felt a lump in my breast.
Until this moment – as you are all now reading about it – no one knew about the lump except my husband and my doctor. For nearly a year, I have kept it a secret, but why?
Whatever the reason was, it doesn’t matter anymore. I now want to share my story in the hopes that it encourages or helps one of you.
Like I said earlier, I had just turned 30. I was in the shower and felt a pronounced lump in my right breast. “What the?!” I thought.
I hesitated to even call my doctor because I thought I might be imagining something. My grandmother had just been diagnosed with breast cancer a few months earlier, and the thought that a lump equals cancer was definitely at the forefront of my mind.
At my doctor appointment, it was confirmed that there was a mass of some sort. They referred me to a breast health specialist to receive a mammogram, ultrasounds, and further testing if needed. It all sounded so scary, but it was necessary.
The mammogram was scheduled for Christmas Eve. I hated to leave my family that morning, but knew I needed to get all of this out of the way to enjoy Christmas.
In the waiting room I looked around at women 10, 20, 30+ years older than me. There was no question that I was the odd one out.
After the mammogram, the nurses took me to the other side of the building for a breast ultrasound. The doctor came in and to my relief said he saw nothing that would warrant a biopsy or other further testing. I was to come back in six months for another ultrasound, so they could monitor the size of the lump. In the meantime, I should perform self-exams monthly.
Even after this scare, I failed to do my monthly self-exams. It wasn’t until my iCal alerted me that this time next month is the follow-up ultrasound that I remembered about my at-home instructions.
Another lump. This time on the left side.
Ultrasounds on both breasts showed no change in the right side and confirmed the new lump on the left. Again thankfully, the doctors said they saw no need to do further testing, but wanted to see me back in another six months.
After that appointment, I did start doing monthly self-exams.
According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation’s website, “Forty percent of diagnosed breast cancers are detected by women who feel a lump, so establishing a regular breast self-exam is very important.”
That is why I wanted to write about this. No matter your age, I would encourage you to talk to your doctor about how to perform self-breast-exams. But don’t just talk about it, or think about it. DO IT! It takes no time at all, and typically women do the exam while already in the shower.
“Using the pads of your fingers, move around your entire breast in a circular pattern moving from the outside to the center, checking the entire breast and armpit area. Check both breasts each month feeling for any lump, thickening, or hardened knot,” the NBCF suggests.
If you do find a lump, don’t wait to call your doctor. Do it immediately, both so that you can get an appointment sooner, and also call immediately for your own mental well-being. And whatever you do, don’t consult Dr. Google! You’ll drive yourself cray-cray!
As of right now, I have nothing else to report with my personal story, except that I’m extremely thankful for my health and for the medical professionals who help monitor it.