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.
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
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!