Do you check your boobs?
I don’t really. Since I stopped breast-feeding I barely think about my boobs to be honest. It’s one of those things that I remember when I see or read about someone who has breast cancer, but usually I just kind of forget.
My left boob started to hurt all the time. Initially, I thought it was the monthlies, but then as days marched by I realised it had been over a month…and then 2.
When I felt the painful spot there was a large oval shaped thing in my boob. When I’d felt my girls in the past they always felt lumpy and I could never really tell what was a real lump worth worrying about or just weird lumpy boob tissue.
I left it a little bit longer then asked my boyfriend to have a grope, because what good is a boyfriend if he won’t feel your lumpy cans in a non-sexual way?
We were in agreeance. I have a boob lump. And I would go to the doctor.
Except I didn’t.
He’d message me-
“Have you made an appointment for the docs yet, babe?”
I was too busy. I had work on and commitments up the wazoo for a few weeks. I’d go soon, ok?
About 80% of breast lumps are benign so I was sure it was nothing….except for that other little part of my brain that started obsessing about the other 20% of lumps that weren’t benign. Suddenly, they were all I could think about.
You see, I knew that I’m take time out of my hectic life and the doctor would just tell me I had naturally lumpy boobs and not to worry about it. Right?
As I lay there naked from the waist up she first felt my ‘good boob’.
“Well, this is tricky,” she said. “Your boob feels like a bag of rice.”
See? Naturally lumpy, this was going to be a breeze.
She got to the sore boob, and she started at the top working her circular motions, gently palpating the tissue feeling for anything odd.
“This is a bag of rice too, but this one definitely has a meatball in it.”
She pushed up hard into my armpits feeling for nodes, before declaring that it didn’t feel too sinister but we don’t mess around with boobs. I should go for a biopsy as soon as possible.
My skin flushed hot while I tried to act normal. Nothing to worry about, just routine.
My mum had lumpy breasts and regular biopsies from the age of 40 until menopause at 50…. It’s perfectly normal. Nothing to worry about. I’m 40 soon, with lumpy breasts, nothing to worry about.
Except I was packing it.
I’ve seen my darling friend Kirsty Rice handle #alittlebitofcancer with such grace and humour, and I wondered if I’d have such grace in the face of the hashtag.
I took the day off work to go and get a mammogram, ultrasound and biopsy. I pretended I wasn’t nervous, acted all cool but I slept like shit the night before. I refused all offers of company. I like to do this shit alone then I can do whatever I do and feel whatever I feel without any need to act a certain way.
I played a cool exterior but my guts gave me away. I did about 3 nervous poos, before my name was called. I sat near the loo hoping no one noticed my frequency.
The room was only small and the radiographer was a tiny little Chinese lady with a nice smile.
“First time?” She asked.
“It’s ok. we’ll be quick.”
She felt the lump with cool fingers and we made pleasant banter about boob related things as she squished my cans into boob sandwiches between the cold metal jaws of the mammogram. Pulling my flesh further than it was designed to go apologising every time she trapped my flesh with her foot pedal.
“Sorry, I’ll go quick”
Somehow it feels a little less intrusive when she says sorry. At least she knows it sucks.
We made uncomfortable front sandwiches and uncomfortable side sandwiches taking our nuclear images of what lies beneath the skin.
Back to the waiting room, made it through the first bit, next for the ultrasound and the biopsy.
I went into door marked 1 for my ultra-sound. A blue gown, air con too cold. I slipped into the gown and she squirted warm gel on my breast.
That was a thoughtful touch.
The murky swirls came up on the screen as she moved it around my breasts.
“Anything interesting?” I asked.
“No. I don’t think so.”
I was done in around an hour and I left with my large envelope of internal pictures that made no sense to my untrained eye when I held them up to my car windscreen hoping to decipher my boobs before the doctor gave me the official news.
Two days later I got the all clear. I have a painful lump in my boob but it is not cancer, the one big boob fear of us all.
I fell into the 80% and although 80% of boob lumps are nothing to worry about, 100% of boob lumps need to checked-out by a doctor because no matter how busy you are, you are too precious to leave that shit to chance.