Did you know October is Breast Cancer Awareness month? Unfortunately, I got to spend the month a little too aware of it. I’ll skip to the punchline because I know firsthand just how stressful waiting is: I’m fine.
The long story…
As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I went in recently for my first mammogram. I found out a few days later that “something” showed up in my left breast. Approximately one in 10 women need a follow up mammogram, but only 8-10% of that 10% need a biopsy. Statistics were on my side.
I “failed” my second mammogram and got to have an ultrasound. Via ultrasound, the radiologist was able to determine that the mass was indeed solid, as opposed to a fluid filled cyst. Do not pass go, do not collect $200, go directly to biopsy. Except the next opening wasn’t for another week.
The biopsy itself was no big deal. It involved some numbing, a big needle and a good looking doctor with a sense of humor. It was kind of amazing to watch on the ultrasound as he took the samples. The mass was apparently so deep in that at one point he explained the potential risk of nicking my lung. (Thankfully, he didn’t.)
And then we waited again.
I spent the last week avoiding Dr. Google, but thinking about what was important to me. I filled the time running, eating frosting, and just trying to stay present with my kids. I made some small decisions: I was keeping my long hair until it started to fall out. I made some big decisions: if there was ANYTHING at all that pointed towards mastectomy, the boob was going. And maybe taking its partner. But mostly, I just tried to stay positive and leaned on my family and a few close friends to stay sane.
And finally, I won the lottery. I met with a breast specialist today and the mass was benign. I’ll have a followup in 6 months and then my annual mammogram in a year and if all stays the same, I’m back to my regular annual checkups.
I got lucky. And I know it. But I’d go through it all again in a heartbeat. I would not have felt the lump any time soon. It’s too far in and back.
There’s been a lot of debate recently about the effectiveness of mammograms and whether women should wait longer for their first one. There is a fairly high rate of “false findings” that require subsequent mammograms, especially in women in their 30s and 40s. Yes, these two weeks sucked (some of that was exacerbated by communication issues that I’m working to resolve.) No, I did not enjoy having my stress levels that high. My body in no way appreciated me alternating between being unable to eat and eating junk. But given the alternative of NOT finding a mass that ended up being cancerous? Give me the two weeks of stress.
And the bottle of Southern Tier Creme Brulee Stout that I’ll be celebrating with this evening.