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So a few days ago, I was putting on a bra and my right breast didn’t handle right.

This is probably hard to explain to anybody who doesn’t have at least somewhat significant breasts, but it was dense in a spot it shouldn’t be dense.

I stopped.

Everything stopped. The whole world stopped. If I had looked out the window at that moment, the wood storks on the golf course across the way would have been frozen with their wings outstretched.

I poked around and there was something in there, about the size of a grape, that was its own thing.

You’d think a breast lump that size would be pretty easy to find, and you’d be wrong. I’m a triple-D, it’s sort of deep in there. Boobs are weird. Imagine trying to locate a grape inside a jello mold, only the jello mold is completely opaque and you can’t break the surface tension and there’s a thing of sliced carrots running down the middle that are throwing the texture off a bit.

Nevertheless, after a few tries I managed to find the damn thing and there it was. My right breast was Rome, and now it had its own Vatican City.

It is almost certainly a cyst.

It looks like a cyst, it quacks like a cyst, it is somewhat squashy and round, not hard like a piece of gravel. The odds of it not being benign are down in the fractions of percentages. My mother gets these all the time. I have genetic predisposition toward them, I am in the correct age range, and they are often a hormone response, and hey, I just started dumping a pile of thyroid hormones into my body. (And hell, if I had a malignant tumor the size of a mouse head, I can’t imagine my recent bloodwork would have been so spot-on healthy.)

I assured myself of all this. I nodded. I did not even have the brief terror fantasy about my lingering death and wondering what they’d say at my funeral. I believe that it is a cyst.

Then I went into the bathroom and cried for five minutes, because holy shit, there’s a lump.

(It was okay to freak out over the one little thing in my armpit because I was pretty sure it probably wasn’t. It’s not okay to freak out about this because it might actually be. Does that make any sense?)

I do not know if I can explain what “I found a lump” is like for women in a certain age range. It is usually uttered quietly, with an attempt at matter-of-factness, it is usually followed with “it’s probably nothing” and it will stop conversation dead in its tracks. If you have good friends, they say “Tell me when you need me to drive you anywhere, I will come hold your hand, tell me what you need.” If you have bad friends…well, to hell with ‘em.

A lump is pretty much the trump card to anything that is not currently bleeding or on fire.
If Ripley had found a breast lump, she could have yelled to the Alien to give her five minutes, and it would have said “Oh, jeez, sorry, I’ll come back. Can I get you anything?”

It is terrifying to suddenly be alone in your body. No matter how many people love you, you are alone. You are stuck. You are in there with the thing and it’s snugged right up there and nobody else can come inside with you and hold your hand.

So, after a long and sleepless night (and making Kevin feel it and confirm that yep, there is a thing there) I called my doctor. They would have had me in same day, but I’m at Disneyworld. (Kevin offered to cut it short and drive me back, but it’s a cyst, it is surely a cyst, and if it’s not a cyst, three days isn’t going to matter one way or the other.)

My mother called and reassured me that was what cysts feel like, she’s had a million of them, and no, she didn’t stop freaking out when she found one until she’d had at least a dozen. So that made me feel better.

(And then I lost the bloody thing, which is worse, because I could just see myself going to the doctor and saying “I had this cyst and now I can’t find it,” and having her give me that look and say “Well, where was the last place you left it?” because my doctor has been putting up with my crap for years now. But I found it again. Having large boobs is just awesome. Really.)

So, Monday I go in to get a second opinion. I assume this will end with a mammogram, which I’m not particularly looking forward to and there better be an emergency release on the machine because if the building catches fire that is some Serpent and the Rainbow shit right there. It’s not painful, they shouldn’t have to drain it any time soon, which is the fate of some cysts.

And I am able to forget about it for hours at a stretch.

And I’m still kinda horribly freaked out and will probably not be cool with it until the doctor says “benign.”

Originally published at Tea with the Squash God. You can comment here or there.

Ack! Hugs and best wishes, hon.

::hugs and hot tea::

My thoughts are with you.

Sending lots of good thoughts. Been there--runs in my family, too. Even the needle biopsy isn't that bad, just annoying--why are the doctors always men? Be waiting to hear that all is well. Meanwhile, have a nice cup of herbal tea and try to have some fun.

Aw jeez. *hug* I'm a little freaked out for you, but I'm hoping for the best. It's probably nothing, but until you know for sure, there's that shadow over your shoulder.

It really is the unspoken common experience. I've had fibrocystic breasts since I was a teenager--my breasts are like hacky sacks, filled with stones of varying sizes, which *change*, and are sometimes tender and sometimes not. My doctor keeps chiding me for not doing self-breast exams, but I can't map out that madness, and I'll just be in a neverending state of panic because there is ALWAYS a lump. But anytime it changes--right now the lumps are bigger and more tender than typical, and there's occasional zings of pain that are spontaneous--my terrible fear is that I'll ignore it the time that it IS cancer. But I can't afford to run to the doctor's office every time I get nervous...I have no way to pay for that many doctor's visits. I'm scared I won't know which change, out of a sea of daily benign changes, will be the bad one.

It really, really sucks.

My mom's the same way and her doctor actually told her to stop doing them because there was just no point.

I was 17 when I found a lump. (The cancer is strong in our family, but this wasn't.) My heartfelt sympathies and "it's a cyst" wishes.

I think I was 16 when it happened to me? I know it was the scariest reason for missing school, basically ever. I ended up getting the benign thing out twice because scar tissue apparently Also looks odd. At 30 I now get annual mamograms beacuse of family, but I haven't felt another lump since.

Hoping it's a cyst, and remember, even if it's not - it is not the end of the world. Modern medicine has made great strides in breast cancer treatment even in the past few years. With my family history, I find that more comforting than anything else.


Everything you're feeling right now is completely normal and understandable. I'm a breast cancer researcher and knew better, but I still freaked out when I had a lump.

If it makes you feel any better, you and I seem to have the same breast size, and my mammograms don't hurt. It can be a little uncomfortable around the armpit area, but it's not painful. I promise. If they want to biopsy it, it also does not mean they think it's malignant -- they're just being overly cautious.

You are so allowed to freak out. And eat brownies. I firmly believe that brownies actually lose their caloric and fat content during times like this. Indulge a little and keep posting so we can all support you.

Here's hoping for a benign diagnosis!

For what it's worth, I'm postulating that it is totally benign.

Sending all kinds of good thoughts.

Urf.... hugs... best wishes...

In with the "I hope it's a cyst, you're in my thoughts"

I know this fear. I have gotten strange lumps in scary places for much of my life. (Mine turned out to be from fibromyalgia, which I did not discover until I was 40.)

Mammogram machines I suspect to have been designed by a misogynist man and a flatchested woman in the closet, in collaboration; much as if a testicle scanner were built by a parochial-school nun and a eunuch.

I don't so much pray as holler at the gods. I seem to be pretty good at it. I just did one about this.

Can't have been a flat-chested woman -- the less breast-tissue there is to squeeze, the more it pulls at the skin on my neck, which is uncomfortable and icky-feeling. Trying to get an itty-bitty into one of those things? Would probably be worse.

Thank you, Ursula. Thank you for writing this. It's horrible and hideous that you have to, but it's also something that in a few years I will point my son to as a thing he needs to see so he can maybe understand why some woman he knows is upset.

Fingers crossed for you.