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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.

Finding a lump is terrifying; I've been there, and you have all my sympathy and as many internet hugs as you can carry.

The one place in the world I most want to be boring and routine and not be asked to be seen again any time soon is the doctor's office. So here's hoping that for the best of reasons, you make no impression and they don't want you around them. You are interesting enough everywhere else in your life; be dull and released on your way here.

This! I am _very_ medically interesting. (You know those new doc health history forms? I always ask if I have to fill out ALL of it or just the highlights.) I wish it on no one.

Ursula, we are all thinking grape-y thoughts at your grape that is just a Grape and nothing exotic.


I can never find my own lumps; my gynecologist keeps finding them. So far they've all turned out to be cysts, and I've twice been advised to have one aspirated even though it didn't hurt, so I did, and it wasn't terrible. (But then I'm okay with a needle as long as I don't see it doing its business.) I've also been told to cut down on coffee, which ha ha NO, so I'll surely keep getting 'em.

The first one freaked me a little, but only a little--I think it was less visceral because I hadn't found it myself (and couldn't find it myself even when I knew it was there). Now it's just "Oh look, another one."

Mammograms suck, but in my (38DD) case they only suck for as long as I'm actually being squished, without any lingering pain at all. Here's hoping you're the same way.

*more hugs*

I am sure it is just a cyst, but you have my deepest sympathy for having to go through the scariness of finding something that is not right in that way. That is a scary scary experience and I hate that it will probably mess with you the whole time that you're at Disneyland. Hopefully the confirmation that it is totally benign comes easy and quickly.

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Seconded! I'm in Orlando and am totally here for you if you need! My gyno is awesome should you need!

Never dealt with this, thankfully, but i have DD breasts and totally get the whole size thing. Plus a few years ago I had thyroid nodules that ended up getting ultrasounds and a biopsy. REALLY scary stuff. Turned out to be benign so no big deal, but still scary!

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.

That's also exactly what having a miscarriage is like.


Ursula, I'm joining the chorus of vibes/wishes/hopes for Grape-Bob to be just Cyst-Bob! *hugs* from Australia, and here: a video of a very happy platypus having its tummy tickled.


Edited at 2013-11-10 01:00 am (UTC)

I hope you have the same outcome as my mum when she found a lump - After tests it was diagnosed as benign and she is still going strong 30 years later. I still remember the celebratory dinner and my first taste of champagne. I forget what age I was, but old enough to know the C-word.

If you can/if your doctor lets you, take a painkiller (or two) before you get the mammogram done. I couldn't do that for mine, but I hear it makes all the difference in the world.
I hope everything turns out ok for you!

I found a small lump once. I was ushered all over the place between doctors and hospitals (because the Kaiser I went to somehow couldn't just ultrasound me there). Then I had the most unsympathetic ultrasound tech/doctor who told me she wasn't too impressed with my lump. Yay I don't have cancer, but I really could have done with a, "Good news you're gonna be fine!" As opposed to some gruff woman acting like I'd wasted her time. I really didn't appreciate all my gynos stressing the monthly tests, and then having a doctor treat my like a hypo when I actually found something strange. Positive thoughts Ursula!

I'm right with everyone else - you will be just fine and you have *all* of our good thoughts and wishes with you. Also, seriously, don't worry or be embarrassed about losing it. I'm a D and I managed to lose mine in the ultrasound room with the nurse patiently trying to help me find it again. Awkward. But, by the expression on her face, this happens pretty much all the time. I may be closer to Disneyland than Disneyworld, but you've got my good wishes and a hug, should you ever feel like you need one.

( I know you've already resolved this but I'm working my way back through my LJ archives. )

I have always had benign cysts. I have never been able to perform a self-exam; I don't even know what regular breast tissue feels like. On my first mammogram the image came out solid white, like a crescent moon, because the bits that aren't fluid-filled sacs are dense and fibrous. So I'm pretty flat-affect over Weird Shit My Breasts Do - one cyst actually pushed against the skin for a while so it was visible just from looking at my cleavage. They move a little when I poke them; I call them my Grapes of Wrath.

Last month I woke up with an angry red swelling over one nipple. With red streaks. And heat. I made a doctor's appointment and then found images of inflammatory breast cancer online and then cried until my boyfriend came over and held me and told me to stop worrying about it until the appointment if I could. And I dried my face and agreed that it was probably nothing, and if it was something, there was no use crying about it anyway. Then I went into the bathroom and saw my breast again and cried until I hyperventilated. He had to drive me to the doctor because I couldn't stop crying. In short, I thoroughly lost my cool. I have never felt that frightened.

It was not cancer; it was an infection caused by the electrolysis I'd been having on my weird stray nip hairs. Apparently the needle went into that cyst that lurks right under my epidermis, the almond one, and pushed in some skin bacteria. Bam: a giant swimming pool of bacteria. My point is that yes, it is terrifying, and the hindbrain cannot be reasoned with sometimes.

You get this a lot, but thank you for posting about this. I recently had my very own lump, and knowing what to expect, and how it almost certainly a cyst (it was!) was what got me through it fairly calmly.

So thanks.