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ursulav

Lump

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.



I found a lump, too, over ten years ago. I still remember very clearly the sudden cascade of fear like cold water down my spine, pooling just behind my navel. The whole room felt ten degrees colder in an instant.

I had a mammogram, then an ultrasound, and then was referred to a breast surgeon, who was fairly sure it was benign, but thought it would be a good idea to remove my lump because my mom had breast cancer (one of her grandmothers died of it). Yes, it was benign. I have a neat little scar on the side of my breast, and a little divot above the place the lump used to be.

Sending vibes of benignity your way. And hugs, too, if they'll help.

Thanks for putting words on this kind of situations. Last april, the very first day of my new work, I wake up with a boob the size and density of a grapefruit and feeling like I just had a baseball bat hit right on the nipple. I was in pain for a month before the doctor found something that help with the pain. and they are still trying to find something that HEAL the damn thing.
count on me for getting a sickness usually linked to breastfeeding.

Oh god, how awful! Hope it improves soon!

Sending best wishes and moral support vibes.

Slightly offtopic:
You have the best way of expressing terrible things ever.

May we metaquote this:
"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?”"

Ooh, yeah. I still remember the time I went to a doctor with a lump. He said it was a lymph node that was infected because I was dirty and drank too much caffeine.

Yep, I'm never making that mistake again.

Offering rides or cat sitting or whatever else might be needful. And strong wishes that it's completely nothing to worry about.

The people here are awesome.

As a male, I have exactly zero understanding of the emotional response a woman has in this situation, but I recognise support when I see it. Applause for all of you.

Men sometimes get breast cancer.

Blessings and health to you, Ursula. I have a history of breast cancer on my father's side, which is not nearly as scary. I'm not looking forward to the mammogram years, as I don't fill an A cup. Still, if anyone can turn mammograms into This Thing I Did And It Was Horrible, making readers laugh & cry at the same time, you can.

My family on my dad's side has a history of colon cancer. And I mean A History. My dad died of it; my aunt died of it; my uncle's had it twice and survived; three siblings and it hit every one of them. My grandmother died of it too.

A few years ago--there's not really any delicate way of saying this--I went to take a crap and when I stood up the toilet water was red. As you say, everything stopped. Everything but the blood in the water sort of receded into smallness. For the next couple of weeks, it was the elephant in the room, every room. It was huge but very quiet, and I could forget it was there for quite a while, until I bumped into it and there it was. Silent and waiting.

I went in for a colonoscopy, and they said it was probably just a polyp that burst. No sign of a tumor. But I know what you mean about feeling alone in your body. You have no clue who I am and I live a couple thousand miles away, but if you somehow find yourself in northern Indiana, let me know if there's anything you need.

Edited at 2013-11-08 11:24 pm (UTC)

So here's me also pulling for the grape to be benign.

I have a mammogram coming up in December. I've had three or four now. Sometimes the surface skin gets kind of pinchy because it's just way not used to being in that position but it doesn't hurt much.

Oi. Sorry you have to go through that. I myself have been there, done that, got a mastectomy. I am one of the lucky ones. Though had same things - cysts in the breast, all benign... until there was something that wasnt, and it wasnt a lump. Just as you said: most of the ones you find are just cysts. In fact, doctors these days are not all that sold on self-exams anymore. I know exactly how useless it is to say silly things like people usually say. But for me the worst was what was going in my mind, not the physical thing. That was like meh, appendectomy gave me more trouble.

Sending you friendly gentle hugs and positive belief that All Will Be Well.
Oh, and "Nine Goblins" was totally worth staying up an extra hour to finish, even on a work night.

Yikes! I hope it's benign and your doctor takes good care of you until she has proof for reassurance. Kevin is in the running for Best Husband Ever for offering to cut short a trip to Disneyworld and drive you home for the doctor's appointment. Hugs!

Oh honey. I know. My sister's a breast cancer survivor so I'm super paranoid.

One of the best things I ever heard was the doctor, as I was coming out of the anesthesia, going "Remember this: just like Bingo. B-9." (Which worked really well for penetrating the anesthetic fog.)

May your experience be equally good.


Yea for squishy. Squishy is good.
I hope this was after I saw you, because I'd be that hand holder right away.
May I never have to use your own Icon for you.

Right after, alas! And I hope not to need to borrow him.

Sending good wishes. (If you prefer, I can hire the world's most incompetent evil magician to work against you.)

Some time ago, I went to a doctor about tinnitus which wasn't going away. Mentioned that there was an itch between two toes which wasn't going away. Turned out to be a diabetes symptom.

I lost enough weight to not be diabetic, having had a relative whose diabetes would've been manageable with diet.

Since then, I've been nervous about various things which MIGHT be symptoms of something....