Wednesday, March 23, 2005
finding a lump

"sweet fancy moses" [nothing to do with this post, but what kind of picture am I going to put up? A mammogram? A biopsy needle?]

In October 2003 I went in for a check up. There is a small lump in my right breast that I first found in 1992. Everytime I go to a new doctor I point it out to them and they always say that it appears to be just tissue. This time the doctor found another lump, and (I think because I'm older) she took the lump more seriously and sent me to a clinic for a mammogram.

This is what I wrote to a friend after that visit:
    I went in and had a mammogram, and then an ultrasound and then a discussion with the doctor.

    During the ultrasound they found a third lump. The two new lumps are small (about 1 cm), soft and have smooth edges. The doctor says the two new lumps meet enough criteria of being benign (there's a less than 5% chance that they are not) that he recommends simply keeping an eye on them. So, in 6 months they'll do another ultrasound and check to be sure that nothing has changed.

    The third lump - the one I first noticed when I was 23 - is a little larger (about 2 or 3 cm, I'm not sure), more firm and doesn't have smooth edges. From these criteria it has about a 90% chance of being benign, and that is enough to recommend a biopsy. He said I could simply have the lump surgically removed, but most surgeons don't like to remove a lump without first doing a biopsy.

    So... next Tuesday I'm going in for a biopsy of just the one lump. I'm not letting myself get worried, because it will most likely be benign - and if it isn't, I would hope that simply removing it would do the trick. I don't want to think about any other scenarios. Hopefully the fact that I've had it for so long is a sign that it's harmless.
Then, after the biopsy:
    I had my biopsy today. It wasn't bad. The doctor gave me two injections of anesthesia - they pricked, but didn't hurt too bad. Then, using an ultrasound, the doctor inserted a big needle and extracted four pieces from the lump. That didn't hurt, but it was strange to feel this long needle going in and out and there was some tugging and pulling - it seemed like it should hurt, but didn't. I should find out the results by Thursday - it could take up to a week, but shouldn't.

    I've been sore and tired since, but I have been taking it really easy. I think I'm tired a little from the physical stress on my body, but more the emotional stress. I felt like I had it under control and wasn't letting myself overthink the whole thing, but right before the doctor started the reality of what was happening hit me and I started to cry - my eyes just welled up. But I got myself under control and felt pretty good during the procedure - although my legs were kind of shaky off and on, so I was feeling stressed.

    Anyway, I feel alright and am trying not to worry too much about what comes next. Hopefully, it'll be benign and I can just breathe a sigh of relief. Even if it turns out to be something, I feel like I can handle anything except not surviving. I can handle losing my breast, going through chemo, going bald, feeling like crap, I don't care, just let me live to see my grandkids. But, I'm really feeling like all of that isn't going to happen.
The doctor called the next day to say the results were benign. We were so relieved and happy. I went in for a 6 month check up, another 6 month check up, and next week I go in for another 6 month check up. Part of me does think I should've just had it removed because it has grown (not a lot in 13 years, but it is larger).

This story, thankfully, doesn't get that interesting. I just thought I'd mention it because although 80% of all breast lumps are benign, 100% of the personal stories I found online were about malignant tumors. After reading several, my chest felt really tight and I found it hard to catch my breath.

Some days I like to just be thankful that I don't have chronic or terminal health problems, I'm not puking my guts out, running a high fever, or dealing with a sore throat, lower back pain or an earache. I take feeling normal for granted most days. But, really, there's nothing better.
posted by lochan | link
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Name: Laura

I have five kids including triplets. I'm too busy to blog, but I do anyway (uh, sometimes).

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