When did you notice the lump? A question I didn’t really have an answer for. After all, I’m not in the habit of feeling myself up… I mean seriously, who sits around feeling their own breasts?? But yet, that is probably something we should do a little more often. Otherwise you might end up like me, and by the time you notice it, it’s already quite large. So large it has everyone a little concerned. So this has been my week. Freaking out about the lump in my breast.

I first noticed the lump last week. Realising it was rather large, I booked an appointment with my GP. I decided to go with a female GP, rather than our usual male GP. Call me prudish but I wasn’t such a fan of our male GP having a good feel of my breast. I know, I know, seen/felt one they’ve seen them all, it’s their job, etc… But if I have a choice, I’d rather a female doctor for female issues. To be expected, it was decided we needed more information. So an appointment was set up for an ultrasound. An ultrasound is usually the first step as an ultrasound allows for a clearer picture of glandular tissue. What I didn’t factor in was how emotional it would be to walk back into an ultrasound room.

Before this week, I'd only ever had lovely experiences with this machine.

Before this week, I’d only ever had lovely experiences with this machine.

So on Thursday, I turned up for my ultrasound. As soon as I walked into the room I was overcome with emotion. Why? I think it was the juxtaposition of my current reality with my memories. I was half freaking out at the knowledge that there was a rather large lump in my breast… but equally strong was the memory of the last time I was in the same room as an ultrasound machine – which of course was going to see the glorious scans of our son growing strong and healthy inside of me. The whole situation was really quite odd. I consoled myself with the knowledge that this would be simple and quick. There wasn’t any history of breast cancer in my family, the lump was mobile and not connected to the skin – all signs pointed to a benign tumour. Simple.

When I’m nervous I talk. I talk a lot. So while having the ultrasound, the radiographer and I chatted about our respective breastfeeding dramas (the lump most likely grew out of hormonal changes during pregnancy and/or breast feeding). We swapped equally horrid stories about mastitis and laughed about how naive we’d been, buying into the whole ‘breastfeeding is the most natural thing in the world’ spin – rather than the more accurate ‘this is bloody hard work’ reality. Just another reason why I prefer seeing a female for female things. We also laughed at the notion woman should be regularly feeling herself up to check for lumps. She even had a little laugh noting that many women discover their lumps because of their partner’s fastidiousness during times of intimacy.

Unfortunately my ultrasound didn’t go as I’d planned. Although everyone was fairly sure it was benign, it was decided that I needed a mammogram to be sure. And to be really sure, we would book a biopsy at the same time – just incase. We were working with the whole, if we book it we won’t need it principle.

Luckily I managed to get an appointment the next day. I don’t think there are

Oh mammogram machine... not the nicest of machine but not as bad as I thought.

Oh mammogram machine… not the nicest of machines but not as bad as I thought.

many things worse than playing waiting games with health issues. So on Friday I went back for a mammogram. Yup, that awesome machine where they literally pull and push your boob, then jam it in between two plates so they can take an x-ray. To be honest, not as painful as when your child kicks your boobs during a nappy change… but not pleasant either. You know the news isn’t great when they come back after a rather long absence, only to tell you that you need to go to another room to speak to the radiologist.

A little while later I was ushered in to see the radiologist. Although he was fairly sure it was a benign tumour, he couldn’t be sure from the mammogram. So he advised that a core biopsy be taken. Now I don’t know if you’re aware of what happens, but the only experience I had to draw upon was when they did a core sample on our farm to see what kind of soil we had. So I gathered they’d be doing a similar thing to the lump – getting a cylindrical chuck out of it. And you know what, that is essentially what it is. They use this rather funky (and terribly chunky) needle to get a cylindrical sample from the lump. Now if you have any understanding of needles, you know that it’s difficult to sew with a blunt or think needle. So in order to get the needle to go into your breast, they take a nick out of your skin with a scalpel first, otherwise the needle wouldn’t be able to punch through your skin. But, of course, they numb the area first with local anaesthetic. They then use an ultrasound to ‘see’, and guide the needle to the lump. Then they trigger the needle. Trigger is the right word too. It fires like a gun. The inner part of the needle shoots into the lump, followed by the outer part (kind of like an outer shell of the inner needle) which shoots out to collect the sample. The needle is then withdrawn, taking the sample with it. Simple right? And the skill of my radiologist made it seem that simple – but I’m sure it’s not.

This is also the spot where we cue that stupid, insane logic. You have one breast completely bare to the two men in the room, both of whom have had to feel your breast for the lump, yet for some insane reason you have an overwhelming desire to ensure your other breast is modestly covered with the hospital gown… because them seeing one of your breasts is totally acceptable but allowing them to see both your breasts would be down right slutty??? Go figure.

You know the worst part of it all? It wasn’t the bang the giant needle made taking the sample. Or the pressure from the needle when it was fired. It wasn’t even the sting of the anaesthetic going in (I’m petrified of needles and have been known to pass out… regularly). The most painful part was the pins and needles that went all through my arm and hand from having to lie in the most awkward position possible and having to hold incredibly still for the longest time. Yup. Not what I was expecting.

Now, my story should have a happy ending. Everyone is fairly sure my tumour, although quite large, is benign. But it was a very apt reminder to take care of yourself. You know, that whole idea behind putting on the oxygen masks in a plane. You should put on your oxygen mask before you put the mask on your children. If you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t possibly take care of your children properly. So learn from me. Take care of yourself and get check ups for all those things you know you should – don’t put them off like I do. Else you might end up with a lump slightly larger than a walnut in your breast and be terribly embarrassed that it got so large before you even realised it was there. Worse still, you could be faced with a real problem with serious consequences. I got lucky.

 

This week I’ve linked up with Jess again, for I Blog on Tuesdays!

Written by Nadia

19 Comments

Bec @ History of Parenting

How terrifying! Hope it comes back as expected. Am waiting on biopsy results myself for another body area. Just got a letter in the mail to say my next specialist appt is 16 April so I figure the results must be OK or it would have been earlier! #TeamIBOT

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nadiamc

The waiting is awful! Fingers crossed for good results! I agree with you – if it were bad results your probably would’ve had a phone call to see when you could come in sooner rather than later.

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Amanda L

Wow Nadia, I am so happy to read that the outcome of the tests showed it to be a benign tumour. I also belief these little brushes with fate give us opportunities to reflect on our lives and appreciate what we have. You’ve inspired me to put myself first every once in a while.

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nadiamc

You are such a positive person! I thought this was karma for all the times I took my son in for those awful procedures he had to have done. All those times I’d whisper in his ear and tell him it’d be all right, that this was no biggie – that he was tough. I thought, this is all coming back to bite me now!! I much prefer your outlook on life. You’re so right. We are very blessed.

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Leanne

I totally understand!!!!My mum had breast cancer at 31 so I have always been aware of my breasts and breast changes. I had a lump at 21. After testing it was a large fibroadenoma that was then removed. Due to my family history I had regular mammograms and ultrasounds after I turned 30. These then stopped as I started having my kids. On New Year’s Eve I was shocked when I found a lump. I was able to see a GP that day and organised a mammogram and ultrasound at the end of that week. Another fibroadenoma was suspected but I was referred to my specialist because of mum’s history. After a biopsy I got the all clear it was a fibroadenoma and he now wants me to start my yearly check ups again. Hoping that all is well with you with your test results xx

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nadiamc

So much scarier when there is a family history of cancer! Glad to hear all was fine. I doubt they’d have told me they thought it was benign unless they were fairly sure. So I’m going with it’s all good news.

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Dani @ sand has no home

This all sounds terrifying for you!
I had a lump 6 or 7 years ago, just pea sized. I had to have the ultrasound and mammogram but that was it.
You are so right, we need to take care of ourselves to ensure that we can care for our children.
I hope your all clear comes through very quickly.

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nadiamc

Apparently 1 in 6 women will have a benign lump at some stage. It’s due to all these wonderful hormones we have that fluctuate all the time! Apparently breastfeeding is probably what triggered the growth. I hear back definitively on Wednesday. But I’m going with it will all be fine. I think nowadays people are so cautious to speak positively unless they are really quite sure… and the radiologist seemed quite sure!

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nadiamc

Yes. I need to remember this as well. Which is why I put it in a post – so I can’t pretend I don’t need the reminder.

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Rachael

I have to admit that I didn’t read every word of this post Nadia because I wanted to get to the end result straight away. Good to hear that all is well. There is nothing like the uncertainty of not knowing, having had similar experiences on a couple of occasions and likely more as a result of having ‘grainy’ breasts. But, like you say, all the more reason for being vigilant.

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nadiamc

It’s terrible isn’t it?!? Glad you’re scans have all had good results too.

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EssentiallyJess

Oh it doesn’t sound very nice at all! And I would be the same, trying to cover my other breast. I don’t like lying bare chested ever, especially not in front of strangers!
I hope it’s all fine and thanks for the reminder to do a breast exam.

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Dannielle @ Zamamabakes

Nadia what a rollercoaster ride you have been through you poor thing. I found a lump an had some pain in my breast last year to which my Lady GP referred me on to having an ultrasound and mammogram just to be safe, everything was fine but for a few days life was a little worrying.
I can only imagine what that biopsy must have been like, like you I have been known to faint with needles especially blood tests……you’d think after 3 C-sections I’d be a pro, I’m far from it!
I hope your biopsy results come back shouting good health.
Take care xx

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nadiamc

Glad to hear your story had a happy ending! The biopsy wasn’t any fun at all. I still have massive bruising – which they warned me about, but confronting to see nonetheless. I too had c-sections, and that definitely helped me get over my fear of needles… But I’m still hopeless!

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Kathy

Hoping it all comes benign as they expect. Scary experience for you. I have horror memories of ultrasounds from IVF and particularly when I had an ectopic pregnancy and finding out during the scan. I went for a belated (6 months late, naughty me) pap smear this week and I bit the bullet and decided to request an ovarian ulstrasound as a way of checking for any signs of ovarian cancer (since I had lots of hormones through IVF). So I’ll have to take myself off to that and face the fear. Being over 40 I have mammograms too and I don’t find them too bad – but lucky I haven’t had any scares.

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nadiamc

Sounds like you’ve had your fair share of horrible wait times and nasty experiences. I’d completely forgotten about pap smears! You are so right – it really is a ‘bite the bullet’ scenario. Unpleasant but must be done!

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Liz Posmyk (Good Things)

Dear Nadia, hoping that the next time I read about this on your blog it will be good news that the tumour is benign… this is a timely reminder for all women to keep an eye on those lumps and bumps. I have had so many friends who have had breast cancer, and a lost a young family member to it as well. In my early 30s, I too found a lump, and had to have the biopsy via the large needle into my nipple. The surgeon, a nasty-ish character, prised my arms away from my boobs and told me gruffly to stop with the being silly. I will never forget that experience. Once again. Good luck with it all. Best wishes. Liz

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