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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.



Adding my good thoughts to the enormous mountain of them you've already accumulated (I'm having visions of a good-thoughts mountain twice as tall as anything in North Carolina, BTW, including Clingman's Dome).

Let me know if Kenny needs any tips.

I've had a cyst in my left breast for as long as I can remember having, well, breasts (about 14-15 years at this point) and, being 13 and dumb in the ways of medical stuff, never really thought about it a great deal, it was just there and I'd have to sometimes shift it out of the way of my underwire. Then, about 3 years on, my family had had some sort of discussion about cancer and it running in families and stuff, and it dawned on me at about 2 in the morning that this weird thing in my breast was in fact a lump and I was going to die at 16 of breast cancer. I got no sleep that night and tearfully asked my mom the next morning what the hell to do. We went to the doctor, they sent me for an ultrasound and thankfully it was nothing to worry about, and still annoys me when it conflicts with my bra. But oh god, that feeling. I got that same feeling (slightly less intense, but not much) from your first 2 sentences.

Best wishes for a benign diagnosis.

I sure hope that it is nothing bad. But this is a really big thing for women, and the first one is probably the most terrifying. Have Kevin give you a hug for me. *smiles*

Wishing you a benign diagnosis and a good night's sleep in the meantime.

I am so sorry for the terror you're living with right now, and, yeah. I'm praying for you.

Sucks. Thinking of you. <3

I had one when I was 19. Actually, I had it removed when I was 19. I found it when I was 17ish. I don't remember for sure. I just knew there was no way in hell I was talking to my mom about it, so I waited until I was 18 and was seeing the doctor for my college physical and said, "While I'm here, could you look at this thing..." She sent me for an ultrasound which my mom saw on the insurance paperwork and THAT freaked her out (her own damned fault, says I). Anyway, the ultrasound tech told me he couldn't tell me officially, but it was just a cyst. I had it removed.

It was pretty big (walnut sized?), and I didn't even need drugs afterward. I may have taken an ibuprofen, but mostly I just took care not to jostle that breast, because I was afraid it MIGHT hurt if I bumped it. I was told that the lack of pain is directly related to the skill level of my surgeon (another doctor told me it was the surgeon he'd choose if his wife were in my shoes, and I hadn't even asked for his opinion!), but I haven't had any more breast lumps, so I can't compare.

I do have a cyst on each leg right now. I had one on my forearm for a while, but the doctor said it wasn't doing anything bad, so there was no reason to cut it off. That one started hurting badly enough that I considered having it surgically removed right before it went away on its own. I think I that one for 4 years.

I did avoid caffeine for a while because I'd read that it can exacerbate cysts, but it didn't seem to make a difference.

Sending all good thoughts that you've got a cyst. It does not sound like what I had. My lump was hard, not squishy, and mine was cancerous. So now I consider myself an Amazon, with the ability to fire an arrow behind my back from atop a running horse without interference from one mammary. Chemo was not that bad (I always took friends and funny movies), I got to have a mohawk for a week before being bald, and for six months I had an ironclad excuse for not doing anything that I didn't want to do. That was five years ago.

Thanks for sharing your story.

Here's to hoping things go smoothly and with as little pain as possible. Also, if you haven't seen it, I think you should watch this TED talk on breast density. TL;DR: Ask which breast density you are because if you're in the top two categories, you're at a higher risk for mammograms not finding tumors.

My dad is a cancer survivor.

Back in January I felt a lump on my throat that shouldn't have been there. It finally turned out to be benign, but it was the worst four months of my life when the biopsies and MRIs were inconclusive.

It's probably going to be just fine, but I completely understand the freakouts. I'm probably going to get them every time I notice something odd for the rest of my life.

I know that feeling. I've been living with one of those for about 3 years now, because hey, no health coverage, and the hospital wanted $3,000 for a biopsy -- and that was after the discount for cash and before any of the other departments got their licks in. So, yeah. I get it.

Yet another internet stranger, popping up to say good luck. We're all here for you.

I had an "unusual" mammogram. I was fairly sure it wasn't something horrible, since they weren't saying "What's the soonest you can check in to the hospital?"  but the week before the second (and then third) visits and the 'all clear' were kind of gut wrenching.

Been there myself, and I know how bloody terrifying it is until the consultant gives the all clear.

My thoughts are with you.