Hello! How was your weekend? I can sum mine up in two words: medical scare.
My breasts started feeling sore at some point early on Friday. The pain felt hormonal, similar to the soreness I’d experience monthly in my pre-surgery years. If you’re new here, now is a good time to catch you up on old news, and also for you to find out that I sometimes overshare (as if this entire post isn’t evidence enough): I underwent a bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy with complete hysterectomy in 2008. I had my entire reproductive system removed (for familial prophylactic reasons). I’ve been on Hormone Replacement Therapy since then, meaning that I wear an estrogen patch… so when I experience the occasional hormonal discomfort, it’s due to my forgetting to put on a new patch, or my dosage needing an adjustment.
By Friday early evening, the pain finally had my full attention. It’d gotten worse. It was ignorable up until then. I mean, I didn’t think about it at all while I ploughed through my Salem’s Inn clean-out extravaganza!
I placed a hand on each breast and realized that it was only the left one that hurt. And when I probed that one, gently, as it was very tender, I felt a HUGE HORRIFYING LUMP positioned just below my nipple. A large lump in a small breast feels gargantuan, my friends.
I spent the weekend planning my f*cking funeral.
(I’m a hope-for-the-best-plan-for-the-worst person.)
It was two long days on the Hot Mess Breast Express.
It was a holiday weekend, and it was the worst!
After I found the lump on Friday night, I got on the phone with a V.A. teleheath nurse, who, after a thorough Q&A, advised me to go to the E.R. if things were the same by Sunday. And they were, and so I did.
The doctor who saw me in the E.R. said scary things, like she “wasn’t sure what the lump was, other than a mass.” And she said, “I just can’t say whether the mass is benign or malignant.” She also said, “If you were my sister or my mother, I’d tell you to go to the clinic ASAP.” And “I’m alarmed enough to think that you should go to the women’s clinic as soon as it opens tomorrow.”
She wrote a doctor’s note for my boss, and I was dismayed. It was my first time calling out sick in the whole year and four months that I’d worked there, and it was also the worst day anyone could call out. Not only was it a Monday, our busiest day, but it was a Monday following a long weekend, our very busiest sort of day! I felt awful about it.
But that’s neither here nor there.
At the clinic the next morning, I had a mammogram (which I was due for, anyway. I’d already scheduled a belated appointment for the end of January). I went into it with abject dread. I mean, I had a large painful lump that was about to get compressed between a platform and a metal slab! I’m happy to say that it was fine, though! It didn’t hurt. I’d forgotten that it’s your ribcage that’s pressed against the platform, not your breast, and the metal slab thing that comes down from the top causes the discomfort as it pulls down the skin above your breast.
Shockingly, the mammogram didn’t show anything!
No lumps could be seen. The radiologist blamed it on the density of my breasts. My dense breast tissue is the reason why I need to have an ultrasound examination in addition to the mammogram I get every year. In dense breasts, growths are often indistinguishable from healthy tissue. After my exam every year, I get sent home with a Dense Breast Information Sheet, which explains that dense-breasted people are higher-risk for breast cancer for this reason. Perky and firm can be life-threatening. If you didn’t know, now you know.
I followed the radiologist into the next room to have the ultrasound, and it was the ultrasound that revealed all… all 1.25″ of the CYST! Turns out that the lump is a regular old fluid-filled cyst that can be aspirated (drained) if I so choose. Cysts are common and nonthreatening. They’re not cancerous, and they don’t become cancerous. They just show up to terrify you when you’re doing your breast self-exam. They show up and they laugh at your pain when you find them. They’re benign but sadistic.
The doctor said that if the cyst doesn’t go down on its own after two weeks, I can ask my primary care physician to send in a referral for an aspiration. I’m happy to say that the pain has lessened significantly since then, so I’m doing much better now!
I would have included an image to go with this post, but I’m pretty sure that a relevant photo wouldn’t be allowable.
But do enjoy this not-gratuitous-at-all pic of my cat being sweet and demure!
Many blessings to you, my friends. Stay safe, and stay healthy!