October is a very important month for me for many reasons. As you all may have heard....Halloween is my absolutely most favorite holiday, and Peanut is going to make the big arrival this month (hopefully not past the due date!). There is also another reason why October is such a special month....especially for us ladies. It is a month that we need to remember about the importance of Breast Cancer Awareness.
This is an awareness campaign that I try to stay active with for a very personal reason. In May 2009, I found a small lump in my right breast while doing a self check. I was 28 years old. This lump came out of nowhere. I usually did my 'self checks' during my cycle once a month while taking a shower. This time it had only been two weeks since the last time I checked. I was gardening that day and covered in dirt from head to toe. (It was a ton of fun!) I needed to get myself all cleaned up and thought I'd do a little check while I was all soapy. That's when I felt the little pea sized bump. At first I thought that I was imagining it. I called in the RacDad to see if he noticed anything different. At first he was happy about my request, until he felt it too. My heart sank. I called my doctor right away and he got me into the office in 15 minutes! He said that I needed to have an ultrasound done to see if it happened to be a clogged duct or something like that. He reassured me that everything would be okay and that I was taking the right steps in being very proactive about it.
Three very long days later I had an ultrasound. The tech did the scan and said that she wanted to show it to the radiologist. He came in and gave me the news. He told me that I was just too young to have a problem like this. He said that it was something more than just a clogged duct and that I would need to see a specialist. The next day I met with the specialist (who was also one of the best surgeons in our area). He said that it looked like a Fibroadenoma. He gave me two choices. He said that I could have a core needle biopsy done, but that it was so firm that he didn't think that he'd get anything out of it. The other was to just go in and remove it. He explained that either way it would need to be removed to be safest. This type of lump is usually benign, but that it can turn cancerous. The positive side of it though was that if it was cancer, it would be gone when it was removed. It wouldn't be the type of cancer that would spread. I opted to just go ahead and get it taken care of. We scheduled the surgery for the next week.
This was the longest week. I thought about my daughter, my husband, and my family. I thought about how short everything is. I wanted to embrace everything around me. It was very hard on the RacDad too. We spent nights reflecting and hoping. I felt helpless, but tried my hardest to not let it take over. My life had changed forever though.
I had the surgery. Everything went well. The doctor did the incision around the areola and it is hardly noticeable now. Recovery went well. The incision took a couple months to fully heal. The nerves took the longest and had to grow back together. It was strange when the sensation was starting to come back. The hardest part was my shoulder pain from having my arm stretched above my head during surgery. A little anti inflammatory and exercise took care of that within a few weeks. Life was surreal for quite a while after though. The emotional toll was far more extensive than the physical.
Since then, my life has been very different and my priorities are in a completely different area. I no longer yearn for the high powered professional career or the stuff that people obtain. Instead I value my family and relationships so much more. That July we found out that we were expecting Little Man. This was such a welcome blessing. Breastfeeding was difficult on that side to start because of the nerve issues. I was worried that maybe a few ducts could've been severed in the surgery, but everything turned out just fine.
The RacDad and I continue to talk about expanding our little family; which was never a big conversation for us before. We searched for ways to move back home closer to our families. We both cherish those things that make life more special; way above anything that you can buy in a store.
I try my hardest to not forget my experience. It's hard not to with the scar to remind me. I also have to remember to check myself religiously and to get checked every 6 months (per doctor's orders). I had this once and I am at a higher risk of having it happen again. I am also at a higher risk of developing breast cancer too.
I urge each and every one of you to do self checks. That is the best way to protect yourself. If something seems off, don't hesitate to contact your doctor. I got a lot of support from the Save The Tatas site. Check them out. Stay safe and healthy!