Sunday, August 14, 2011


Well, the biopsy results are in and all is well. The lump was nothing more than a cyst with absolutely no abnormalities. Phew. In reading up on cysts, I discovered that having a biopsy was probably overkill, as the cyst could have simply been aspirated and that would be that. I understand the prudence of the health-care industry, but I do wonder if the fear of a lawsuit is really what drives the decision-making process. Of course, it is nice to have the assurance of a biopsy, but the trauma to my breast from the whole procedure was not insubstantial. The biopsy itself wasn't painful, but the swelling and bruising and soreness for the three days following the procedure was not at all pleasant. Regardless, the best way to detect any abnormalities in one's breast tissue is to perform regular self breast exams. So please, ladies, cop a feel and get to know your breasts, you're the first line in defense for cancer prevention.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Girls

Over the past year a local health group has participated in an ad campaign to raise awareness for breast cancer and breast cancer detection. While I absolutely support the efforts, I do find their message of referring to women's breasts as "the girls" annoying. It goes right along with not naming other anatomical parts and giving them goofy names. I mean really, what is so scary about the word "vagina?" So these ads imploring women to "take time for the girls" i.e. feel them up and get to know them sort of irritated me. Now I know that it is important to give oneself monthly breast exams and I am about as regular at self-exams as I am taking vitamins, which if you looked in my vitamin cabinet and found my calcium pills having expired back in 2008, you'd be able to easily deduce that A.) I don't take my vitamins, or at least not my calcium, regularly and B.) I am equally haphazard about breast-exams. I've never been concerned about being regular about monthly breast checks because there is no history of breast cancer in either side of my family and I'm not yet 40 and still feel as if I have 100 years of life ahead of me.

Call me stupid.

The other week as I was lying in bed I randomly decided to feel for lumps and bumps, which I will say for small-breasted women can be accomplished in less than 45 seconds. As I was feeling around I came across a very noticeable lump. This was enough of a lump that I asked Jim to feel to see if he thought it was unusual, since he feels my breasts more than anyone else. (Yeah, not only am I not afraid of the word "vagina" I'm now publicly declaring that my husband feels me up!) He too thought it was out of the norm and the next day I phoned my OB/GYN for an appointment. Well, that appointment happened Friday morning and by Friday afternoon my chart read STAT and I had both a mammogram AND a sonogram done. Here is a disclaimer for mammograms: they don't hurt, contrary to what you might hear. I asked Jim to come with me because I knew that if the news was bad I wanted to have him there for both support, but also because Jim is a total ninja in the face of crisis or chaos. I knew he would be able to ask the right questions in case I was reeling. After an agonizing wait of 20 minutes the "patient navigator" asked us into her office. I knew that since I wasn't just being sent home and was asked instead to sit with the navigator, my day wasn't over. The radiologist came in and explained that yes there is a lump, which was no surprise since anyone who goes near my left boob can feel it, and until it is biopsied, we won't know if it's a thumbs up or thumbs down. I do have a few things going for me. One is that while there is no history of breast cancer in my families, I do come from a line of women with "dense breasts." Basically our breast tissue is so protein dense and lumpy that mammograms are somewhat ineffective. With this type of tissue, breast cysts are more "normal" and are often benign. Obviously, I'm hoping for this scenario. On a gut-level I feel this is the case, so I'm not spending too much time worrying or fretting. I go in for a biopsy this Wednesday and by Friday we'll have the results. Why am I going into this detail here on this blog? Because I think many of us think, "not me" and we treat our own health like I've treated mine, a little haphazardly. Also, I'm young, I'm in great shape, I eat well, I'm thin and I guess I just can't even imagine that something like this could happen to me, but here I am crossing my fingers and hoping for the best. So in a way this is my own public service announcement. Make time for your breasts, or girls, or titties, or boobies or whatever you want to call them, because you just never know...