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breeden
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.



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If you don't already have a regular radiologist that you're happy with, I recommend Wake Radiology, especially the one in Cary.

I had my first one earlier this year (not at Wake), and it was pretty much a terrible experience due to the fact that they refused to accommodate my disability. When I got the notice that they wanted me to come back in for a followup I literally burst into tears not because I was afraid it was cancer, but because it had been that painful for me to do. Once I'd calmed down I called them and spoke to the head nurse, who confirmed that no, they do not do sitting mammograms unless the patient is actually wheelchair bound because standing ones are "easier for the technicians". She did not seem to understand why I would consider the fact that I was in significant pain and limping for days after my first one to be more important than the convenience of the technicians.

You don't have trouble standing, to my knowledge, but I think this is still relevant because I strongly suspect "easier for the technicians" translates to "we hired the cheapest ones we could, which means they're not very experienced or skilled, and they need it to be as easy/routine as possible to not eff it up." Calling around, this seemed to be the attitude most places.

Only Wake Radiology seemed to think that it was important for their technicians to be skilled enough to deal with a variety of situations, and they also treated their patients (not just me, I saw them helping others) like they actually cared about them and didn't just see them as one more checkbox in their daily quota. As a result, my followup screening was smooth, easy, and not at all painful. They explained things well enough that I knew what to expect at every stage, and they gave me a moment's warning before expecting me to hold my breath (or lack thereof) for the next several seconds. And, best of all, they gave me the results before I left, both verbally and in writing.


Coming in late here, but I would also recommend Wake Radiology. They're good people in general.

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