A couple of weeks ago I was changing into my pajamas when my hand brushed against something firm in my chest. “That’s odd,” I thought. “I already took my bra off.” I checked my right breast more carefully. Then I checked my left breast. Then I checked my right breast again. There was clearly something there, inside, the very thing women are supposed to look for in the shower.
It’s a lump about a centimeter high, half a centimeter wide, shaped like a gourd.
I was shocked. Billiam had just come out of the bathroom, and I can only imagine how misleading it must be to come back to the bedroom with your girlfriend feeling on her boob, stammering, “I have a lump in my boob!” He laughed, because he probably didn’t know how to read the look of extreme confusion on my face, and I wasn’t offended, I just said, “No, really! There’s a lump in my breast!” I pointed out the spot to him and I’ve been slightly distracted ever since.
That moment of discovery came just five weeks after a “good health review” with my new physician. The results of that physical were stellar. My cholesterol is excellent, earning me multiple exclamation points when my doctor followed up, all my blood work checks out fine, and in general despite my lack of regular exercise, I’m really healthy. Even for a 25-year old.
The night before my scheduled visit to have this new thing checked out, I did the typically stupid unavoidable thing and Googled around, updating myself on the mammogram/insurance debate. Most material you find on the Net surrounding the mammogram issue mentions women in their 50s and 60s. The lowest number I saw in that discussion was for women in their 40s. So I Googled for combinations of “20s, breast cancer, et cetera,” just to reinforce what I already knew to be true, that sometimes, that does happen. That women in their 20s do sometimes get breast cancer.
I was relieved to hear from my doctor that whatever I have is very mobile, but neither one of us wanted to jump the gun and call it more (or less) than it is. She asked me to check on it in a week, check on it in another week, and then email me with its progress. The main characteristic I was to keep an eye out for is if the thing did not change. If it did change, it sounded like it wouldn’t be so bad. Unfortunately, it did not change, so I emailed her yesterday and asked her if we could go ahead and execute an ultrasound.
When I received her response, a simple and affirming “Sounds good. I’ll fax the ultrasound order to the imaging center…,” I was more thrown than I have been in the last few weeks. It wasn’t her language. I’ve found her bedside manner to be extremely affable and easy to get along with. It was just seeing an official word with such a tangible action like “order.” I had a hard time focusing on my freelancing after that. But again, I accept that I’m not in control over this thing. Whatever it is, I’m equipped with whatever it takes to live with it. Some part of me feels like those who are sometimes prone to overconfidence (points to self) are possibly the best candidates for major health issues. Because we (perhaps) naively believe that we can and will beat it.
You read it here first, if I get breast cancer, I’m going to post a badge that says, “I have breast cancer, bitches!”
I don’t feel major concerns that I have breast cancer, though I did learn later in the game that my aunt went through chemo twice for it. I didn’t even realize it because she’s had a full head of jet black hair in all the time I’ve known her. I’m more torn by the wait. It’s like when someone you like-like stops calling. You wonder where they’ve gone. You make up silly scenarios in your head while you question if there will ever be any closure. I just want to know what’s going on, just confirmation that it’s a benign clump of tissue in my boob. I’ve been running around making off-color jokes to Brooklyn and Billiam that “I’ve got a lump in my boob! I need to get a bobopsy! It had teeth. It was my twin…” Or in my case, triplet. The most valuable lesson from MAD Magazine? Why worry?
So here’s my I’m Grateful for List:
- I’m grateful for having a doctor that I can e-mail.
- I’m grateful for having a job that provides health insurance.
- And I’m grateful for having small boobs.
I didn’t write this to gather a pity party. I write and I share, and everything I’ve known and learned about what could be coming my way says that it isn’t cancerous. I was hesitant about sharing this information with anyone before because I found it to be a sort of private, quiet thing to fear. (I also didn’t want it to come off as a sort of cheap ploy to get people to visit.) I’m more open now because I think my story could benefit others. When I was Googling for hints and answers, what I really wanted to read was “I’m twentysomething and I found something in my chest but it turned out to be nothing! No worries!”
If you’ve read this far, the most pertinent piece you need to retain is how important it is to know your body and check yourself regularly. Though my life isn’t flashing before my eyes, I have been given a reason to evaluate my perspective on things. Like, “Hey, you’re 25, but that doesn’t mean you’re invincible. – And there is nothing wrong with that.”
And yes, I am grateful for having small boobs. I don’t have to go searching for special bras and I don’t have to worry about participating in rigorous sports. The larger the breast, the harder it is to detect things like this, so in some hyper-Darwinistic view, I’m actually more fit for survival than the highly celebrated buxom woman. But don’t take away my buxom woman friends. I love them. As much as I love my small boobs.
C’est la vie.