How often do you perform self-examination on your breasts? It is very important to become familiar with them. The National Breast Cancer Foundation has a wonderful Breast Self-Exam Guide. I’m thankful I was educated early on about the importance of self-exams.
A year ago, while I was showering, I felt a small lump in my right breast. No big deal, right? It’s hormonal, I said to myself. Then, around May, it felt as if it had grown. That’s when doubt and worry started to kick in. I went to my primary physician with my concerns. She examined me and agreed that I should have an ultrasound done to determine exactly what we were dealing with. Due to my age and the density of my breast tissue it is recommended that women of my age group have an ultrasound and not a mammogram. Early detection is key with breast cancer.
At the time, I was about to take my trip to Nicaragua, therefore, I decided to have the exams when I returned. Fear of the unknown is a monster. I kept putting it off, a week at a time. Always making excuses like work, school, etc.
In late July, I finally had the ultrasound done. I was a mess leading up to it, but had finally decided I was going to face whatever I needed to. With God, family, and close friends in support, I felt emboldened to face my fears.
The day of the ultrasound I was still scared, but firm in my resolve. The imaging center I visited were professional and kind. They took into account my age and how daunting the process was to me. A week after the ultrasound, I picked up my results and read what I already knew to be true. I had a mass.
Sadly, I have had many close to me that have had to undergo surgery for breast cancer. Many have had lumpectomies before undergoing therapies. I was introduced to a wonderful surgeon who had operated a very close family member with breast cancer. I called his offices and made an appointment right away.
I was relieved to find a competent and reassuring surgeon. He examined me and read my ultrasound. I felt at ease and there was a sense of peace finally facing the unknown. He confirms what I already knew based on the ultrasound. I had a tumor and it needed to be removed. A tumor! I had to have it removed!
I can not stress the importance in finding a surgeon in which you have complete confidence in. He or she will be cutting into your body! There is no such thing as an ignorant question. If you have doubts and need an answer, your doctor should always be willing to answer to the best of his or her abilities.
My heart skipped a beat! I had a tumor, but he was confident it was not cancer. He went on to explain that it was fibroadenoma, a benign breast tumor. But he had more to say. I also had one in my left breast. It was small and we would have to wait until it grew; it would have to be observed. Great… not just one surgery in my future, but two. It was so small that it was not detected in the ultrasound. He palpitated it during my breast examination. I left his office with knowledge and my new game plan. I would have to have surgery as soon as my college semester was done.
It’s a scary situation having this thing, this fibroadenoma, inside me. Knowing my grandmother is a breast cancer survivor, and she, too, had fibroadenomas adds a sense of, “I may have cancer in my future too.” Although I was thrilled to hear it was not a malign tumor, it was terrifying knowing it had to be operated. It was a big deal for me! As a I child I would always follow the rules and never do anything that put me in danger. I feared having to be hospitalized or operated on. You have to understand. I’ve never had stitches, broken a bone, gone to the hospital, or even had to have an IV. Well, I guess there’s always a first time.
My advice to every girl out there is to perform a monthly self-examination. More and more women around the age of twenty are getting breast cancer. Although I did not have cancer, it is becoming more common in younger women. The sooner you catch tumors, the chances of its progression and its spreading is minimal. Go on and become close and personal with your breast! 😉
P.S. Stay tuned to my next post recapping my breast surgery.