I waited a long time to share this experience. It’s one that I’ve wanted to keep private, but the more vulnerable I’ve been here on my blog, my Balancing Your Hustle Podcast, and on Instagram the more feedback I get from women (and men) going through similar experiences, stop feeling so alone. I think the more we talk about difficult issues, traumatic experiences, and the not so easy stuff, the easier it becomes. The more people feel connected, understood, and not so alone.
I thought it was going to be just like any normal Gynecologist appointment. Get everything checked down there, answer a few questions and be on my way without any issues.
This one though…it went a little differently.
When my Gyno started to feel around and check my breast she said “Did you know you have a lump in your right breast”. My heart immediately dropped…A LUMP?? I had no idea. “Here feel this – it’s the size of a small golf ball, right here, how could you not know this was in your breast?” It was a mix of disappointment and astonishment coming from my Gyno that I didn’t know there was a large lump in one of my breasts. Truthfully I’ve felt around in there and everything feels a little weird. I have size D breasts and with that comes a lot of fatty tissue, lobes, and muscle. It all feels a little weird and I didn’t know what belonged there and what didn’t. I felt embarrassed and scared that I completely missed this.
I was never really taught how to give myself a breast exam, that’s no excuse, but it’s true. What is normal and what isn’t? The next steps were to get a biopsy of the lump to see what it actually was and if it was cancerous. So my Gyno came back into the room with a super long but thin hollow needle (sorry guys if you are freaked out by needles) to remove tissues samples from the breast mass. Whewww okay the worst is over…right?
Then I waited.
This was definitely the worst part. Was is cancerous? If it was what stage cancer was I in? Was it benign? Would it go away on it’s own or would I need surgery? My head was spinning for days.
As I continued to wait for the test results (which felt like 10000 years) it was recommended I get a ultrasound of the mass. Since the mass was pretty large I was told I might have to get surgery whether is was cancerous or not so it was best to take this extra step. Matt came with me to the Oncologist appointment. I remember my heart pounding as I sat in the waiting room. I hated that I had this thing inside of me that could potentially change my life. Matt did his best to distract me but my mind was still going a million miles a minute. When I was finally called back, I entered this tiny room and removed my top. The radiologist then did exactly what you see on tv when someone is getting an ultrasound, he took the device, placed it on my breast and moved it around until we saw it.
There is was, I looked up and saw a large round mass in my breast.
At this point we still didn’t know if it was cancerous or not but we talked about next steps either way. If it wasn’t cancerous it was recommended I get it removed because of how large it was. It’s size was alarming and I could run the risk of it growing and causing issues down the road. If it was cancerous, that was a whole new conversation and I would have to meet with an Oncologist for next steps.
I continued to wait.
The results were finally back, the Oncologist called me and to a huge relief, it was a benign tumor! Which means non cancerous. I felt like I could finally breathe for the first time in a week (which actually felt like years). The scariest part was over, now it was time for surgery. Though I was still a little nervous, I’ve only had one other major surgery in my life and had been but under anesthesia twice. It’s a very uncomfortable feeling for me so I tried my best to block out any negative thoughts. Matt took the day off work to be by my side.
I arrived at the hospital and prepped for surgery, I was super glad to hear that it would only take about an hour and then I would be good to go home! So I got prepped for surgery and the last thing I recall is the anesthesia mask going over my mouth. Next thing I remember is waking up and seeing Matt. After I signed a few papers I was good to go home. Post surgery I couldn’t do any high intensity movements like running, jumping, cycling, etc for a few weeks but was able to start walking again as soon as my stiches were dissolved. Thankfully that only took a few days and to be honest I didn’t want to do a lot of moving because I was VERY SORE! I felt like I had gotten punched repeatedly in the boobs.
Moving forward I am very passionate about regular self breast exams. I realized I was very uneducated about what to look for and naïve to the fact I’m in my mid 20s and NEED THE BE CHECKING! The most important thing is to know what normal is within your breasts, by giving yourself a breast exam you start to know where normal is so then if something feels abnormal you can catch it. I’ve recently downloaded and app called “Check Yourself!” by the Keep A Breast Foundation. Download it right now. Seriously. You can set monthly reminders to check yourself and it even has a great little 5 step self exam with graphics so you can learn! It also has simple facts and what to do if you feel anything abnormal. The earlier that breast cancer is detected, the better your chanced are for surviving!
So please please please check your breasts once a month!!!
Tell your friends, sister, mom, grandma, aunt, whoever to check themselves too because the more people who are educated the more we can save lives!