Feel Those Breasts, For Your Health!

In honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness month, I’m sharing my own personal story with the village. You all know the two “fun” parts of a physical as a woman: 1) the pelvic exam and 2) the breast exam. I had gotten through the first part and was rocking out with my boobs out on the second part when I heard my doctor say, “I found a lump.” I remember the ice-cold dread that ran up my spine when those words finally registered in my brain.  

I sat up and said, “Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?” At the time, I was 34-years-old and in good health. I wasn’t a mom yet. All I could think was I’m too young for this. I had to take a deep breath so I didn’t have a total panic attack in my doctor’s office. My doctor told me I needed an ultrasound to get the lump investigated. Okay, so this could be nothing, I thought to myself.

Ultrasound scheduled and off I went, thinking they’d look at whatever lump, deem it not a big deal, and I could go on my merry way. Nope, not so much. The lump needed to be biopsied to be sure it wasn’t cancerous. There was that dread again, creeping up my spine. OMG, now we’re at the stage of having to rule out cancer?!? My mind reeled. 

Biopsy day arrived. I was a complete and utter nervous wreck. I lay on the table with tears streaking down my face as a core needle biopsy was performed on my right breast. After the biopsy, they left a clip to mark the spot. Now began the dreaded wait for the pathology results. I remember feeling complete emotional agony, worrying when I was going to get the call. And what would the result be? What if I DO have breast cancer? Another deep breath to quell the rising panic.  

The call came, and I was so fortunate to hear the word BENIGN. The lesson I took from this? Know your breasts ladies. I hadn’t been doing regular breast self-exams, and that all changed after this experience.  

Fast forward three years. I was 37-years-old, with a 9-month-old baby and adjusting to being a mom. One night after putting my daughter to bed, I found a lump. I called my doctor the next day, and after her confirmation of the lump, I got referred for another ultrasound. I’d like to tell you this time around was less nerve-wracking, but I’d be lying through my teeth. I was terrified. During the ultrasound, they found lumps not just on the left side, but also on the right side (the same one I had biopsied years before!). No biopsy this time, but until last year, I had to go every 6 months to monitor the areas. I’ve finally graduated to annual exams.  

My story is one of early intervention here. During Breast Cancer Awareness month, I’m here to remind you how vitally important it is to do self-exams, to know your own breasts. It’s also incredibly important to go for your annual mammograms since mammograms can help detect cancer before it can be felt as a lump. And coming from someone who considers herself to be somewhat of a mammogram expert since I’ve had plenty, I can tell you from personal experience that getting your breasts smooshed is uncomfortable, but not super painful. As moms, we’ve endured much more. Remember, feel those breasts, for your health!