I’m incredibly overwhelmed by the support for me from my last post but I need to state clearly,
I DO NOT HAVE CANCER.
I went through all the testing and it was a benign (no cancer) tumor. However, I wanted to share my experience because if you ever find yourself saying “I have a lump in my breast”, I wanted to give you a preview of what may occur.
When I found the lump, I wasn’t doing a self-breast exam but just taking a shower. I didn’t really know if it was there so I asked my husband to confirm that there was a lump and he felt it as well. Later that day, I called my gynecologist and scheduled an appointment for an annual exam because I was overdue for that visit as well.
During my visit, the gynecologist reviewed my family history, risk factors and conducted a breast exam and confirmed she felt it as well and said they’d send me for a mammogram and ultrasound to review it. Because of my family history (no cancers with the last 3 generations) and age, the gynecologist stated that she felt it was more than likely just a cyst and reviewed my options for treating it.
The mammogram appointment is everything that people say it is. It hurt so much I also cried. Your breasts are smashed in a machine and a digital scan is taken. Because I had lumps, my breast were tagged with special stickers to highlight exactly areas of concern. An ultrasound was also taken to review the composition of my lump. If it was primarily fluid filled, then it would be a cyst and there would be no further testing.
My mammogram showed a solid mass and I was referred to a wonderful breast surgeon who conducted an ultrasound guided breast biopsy. During this procedure, my breast were numbed and the surgeon inserted a very long needed into my breast while she reviewed the images on an ultrasound (do not look at the needle!) and extracted 6 samples of tissue from the mass. She also inserted titanium marker into the lump for future ultrasounds and mammograms, showing that it was biopsied.
I drove myself to the appointment and was able to drive home right after with no problems. I asked the surgeon about pain and she said that I would be sore for a few days. I was expecting to be sorer after the biopsy and nervous about traveling that night but I was the rare person that didn’t have any real discomfort or pain. I was a little aware of it but didn’t even need over the counter medicines.
After the sample was sent to the lab for review, the surgeon called me the next week and said that everything was clear. The mass was a fibroadenoma, a non-cancerous tumor of breast and connective tissue. I could opt to have it removed or do what I plan on doing, watching and having a follow-up ultrasound in six months to review it for changes. At that point, I will make the decision about removal.
The reality is that I consider myself incredibly blessed and fortunate not to have been diagnosed with cancer now however studies show I have an increased risk in the future. I will be more vigilant in making sure to exam my breast and really notice any changes going forward.
I would ask that you check your breasts in the future for any changes. If you find yourself with a lump and don’t have medical coverage, please visit the CDC’s National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP) to find a site in your state that offers free or low cost screenings in your area at http://nccd.cdc.gov/dcpc_Programs/.
AND I would ask you to share this post with a friend. I’m being very open to sharing this story because I want anyone else going through this to have at least a little more information that I could find. I’m also more than willing to have a private conversation with you (anyone out there) via email, twitter or FB or even phone about this experience. I felt very alone as I went through this. I know I didn’t have to. I had friends who I could call and talk with who had been there but I didn’t.
Finally, I would ask that you support research, patients and survivors. There are tons of ways that you can support breast cancer. Please pick one. It might be offering a meal to someone you know, donating to a survivors group, or simply helping to build awareness. Just please do something to honor those who are fighting this disease and in memory of those who lost the battle.