Phantom bumps and cancer freak outs.

Well, yesterday a combination of premenstrual hormones and the stress of waiting combined into a quiet freak out session when I realized there may (may, because I can’t quite decide) be another bump in my other breast.

This one feels different. It’s allusive, and can only be felt occasionally with deeply probing fingers. Actually, it feels more like a hard ball of jelly that squishes this way and that whenever I try to get a grasp.

My first reaction was ‘oh shit, again?’ F*&%k.

My second reaction was embarrassment. Because compared to my right breast, this bump is nothing. So nothing, I can already assume it would be a waste of the GP’s time. Besides, I’ve already been with one complaint, so to rush back in feels silly. . . Like I’m a scared woman who’s spent too much time thinking about breast lumps. (this may actually be true)

My third reaction was to calm the heck down, realize it’s right before my period (a time when my breasts usually swell and get sore) and I’m going to my consultation on Monday anyhow, so I can bring the issue up then. And yes, I will bring it up – because previous bump or not, I’ve got to take it all seriously. Right? Right. I can only imagine how many women are not getting their bumps checked because of doubt, or insecurity or embarrassment.

But we need to be practical, and practical advice says get it all checked.

Anyhow, it was a stressful hour. I work in a library and can’t loudly express how I feel, so instead I stared at the screen and started thinking about this blog: writing in it, drawing for it, releasing these feelings that don’t have many places to go.

I also emailed my husband. He replied with a lovely article on a some research showing that women with allergies are less likely to have cancer.  However to say I don’t have breast cancer because I have allergies (bad, bad allergies) feels like bargaining, and I don’t want to do that. Plain and simple, I just want to be healthy.

So that was my evening with the phantom bump. It might be there, it might not. It might be nothing, it might be something. Despite my assumptions and doubts, there’s no way to know till I have my consultation.

Yet another reason I look forward to Monday.

Bandage off!

Five days post biopsy: I took the waterproof bandage off this morning. Here’s how it looks underneath. Not bad at all. I have one tough boob!  I won’t remove the plaster (little white strips) till this evening. The lump is still here, but not any larger. That feels like a good sign, though a better sign would be if my lump could speak and said, “Don’t worry, I’m not breast cancer.

I’ve read online that when it comes to breast cancer (which I don’t want to have), it’s better — psychologically speaking — to have the biopsy and the removal of the lump done separately. Maybe it’s easier to cope with an operation when you already know the results. So I’m glad for my biopsy.

Now I just need to wait for the results. . . !!! . . .

FYI: The bruising in this picture is much worse than the real bruising, but it’s hard to master subtle colouring in Paint. Probably not impossible, but beyond my patience.

The bump in my boob

Writing about my breast feels slightly unnatural, slightly taboo. But why not, right? All the girls are doing it.

So, my breasts; I’ve always loved these ladies. They’re tidy, petite and fit my body perfectly. When I was about fourteen, I’d hoped they’d pick up the pace and really start expanding. When that didn’t happen, I came to embrace my small B cups. They feel like home, they feel like me.

Well now, apparently, I’ve decided to give myself a hard time. Because there is a lump in my breast – which rings all sorts of bells for breast cancer awareness – and has kicked me into preventative action.

Two weeks ago my husband and I were hanging out (we’ve just celebrated our first year wedding anniversary — yay!) when I noticed there was a bump in my chest. It feels round, slightly movable, and fairly solid. I asked him to come over and give it a rub. He does, and says that there’s something, but it’s barely noticeable.

It’s noticeable, believe me. I noticed it.

Fast forward two days and I have an appointment with my GP. She gives me a feel too. Yep – there’s a bump. She refers me onward.

To the breast clinic!

This was my first time as a hospital patient. I wasn’t even born in a hospital, so this was really, truly new for me. My husband and I walked into the clinic and took a seat. The place was filled with women, and filled with their partners, husbands, caretakers etc. We waited, and waited, and then my name was called.

Here’s what happened next.

I had an ultrasound. This is when the doctor squirts a clear gel on your breast and uses a smooth device to push it around. Totally painless, and rather interesting. Good thing she was an expert, because I had no idea what that thing on the screen was (they say it was my breast, but all I saw was blob shaped static).

Then she gave me feedback. Apparently it’s not a fibroid (she’d been expecting a fibroid). Instead she sees balls of calcium. Okay… what does that mean?

She sends me for a mammogram.

A mammogram is awkward. Maybe some women feel pain, but I just felt squished. There was a lovely nurse who manhandled me into a large machine that flattened my breasts as much as possible. Generally they wouldn’t do this on me because I’m under thirty, but because of the calcium the doctor thought it may be helpful.

That was stage two. All the while my husband is waiting and I keep popping out to see him while they arrange the rooms. I’d sit beside him and flip through random fashion magazines, squeezing his hand intermittently because last summer’s fashion can’t hold my attention. Quietly, I’m starting to freak out.

All along I’d figured this was a routine bump, a liquid filled nothing. But then why all the testing? Why, why, why?

Final test – the biopsy.

There is a reason this is final, and that’s because it sucks. This, compared to the other tests, is more like having a cavity filled at the dentist. I felt the same anxiety, stared at the same type of ceiling, and cringed the same way when the needle with the numbing agent was injected.

But the doctor and nurse were both lovely. Just lovely. They could give lessons in keeping people calm. We bantered about my home town, and where it was, and how the doctor had visited it thirty years ago when her sister was in Toronto. And then came the needle, and then came the ‘gun’.

It’s not really a gun. But it makes a loud sound, and it takes a core of tissue from your bump. The first time they ‘shot’ me, the numbing hadn’t taken full effect – so yes, that was a surprise. The second time I felt nothing but the pressure of their hands. The third time I felt a little pinch, but it was over. Thank goodness.

Following this the nurse held me down for a good two minutes, talking and explaining how the bandages worked (all the while stopping the bleeding from my chest). She did a good job. When I finally looked down, there was a small hole (3mm) but no blood.

Paracetamol became my best friend as the numbing faded. It felt like I’d been punched hard in the boob. Really hard.

And now, four days later, I still have the bandage in place. It itches like hell and I’m dying to take it off. But more so, I’m dying to get my results.

What is this bump in my boob?

So that’s my story – that’s what made me start writing. And hopefully, in a week from today, I’ll get good news. Good news.

We’ll see.

PS. just an fyi – I’m not writing to provide information on the procedure of breast cancer screening. I’m only sharing my expereinces. If you have questions, I encourage you to ask your doctor.