I am a pretty private person, which is slightly ironic since I have a public blog. Although I have no reservations about sharing my day to day ramblings and delicious desserts, the rest of the details aren’t really divulged here. However, sometimes having access to a large audience is a blessing, so after about 8 months, I have decided to share something extremely personal with you.
About eight months ago, I felt something “off” on the exterior of my right breast. I sleep on my stomach, so it was incredibly annoying and after a few weeks, I decided to call my physician. My doctor ordered an ultrasound, which came back normal. However, that annoying area never got to be any less…annoying.
For as long as I can remember, my mother has worked in the health care field and always taught my brother and I to “take control of our healthcare.” So, of course I wasn’t satisfied with the ultrasound results and called the doctor again. This time he scheduled a mammogram. Now let me tell you, I had some pretty interesting ideas concocted in my brain about what this little procedure would entail. To sum it up, I envisioned pancaked boobs. Well, aside from the nakedness, the mammogram wasn’t bad at all…trust me I am a big pansy.
After about 10 minutes in the mammogram room, my gut told me something was not right. The quiet and reserved technician repeatedly left and entered the room making slight adjustments to take “just one more.” After about six “just one mores,” I got a lump in my throat and tears gradually welled in my eyes. I started counting the peach toned flowers on the walls to divert my attention in an effort to quell the tears that were about to roll down my cheeks. Moments later, I was instructed to get dressed because the doctor needed to speak with me.
The doctor told me that there was a “questionable” area on the inside of my right breast. Inside? No, not the inside, I feel something on the outside. He told me that was “fatty tissue,” and assured me all was well with the outside. I stood there numb and really don’t remember much aside from the word Stereotactic Biopsy. To me, biopsy meant needle, which meant blood, which meant me feeling like I wanted to vomit right there directly on the doc’s shiny brown oxfords.
I gathered my composure, pretended to digest everything he said and headed outside into the warm spring air. I drove home in silence. No radio, no iPod, no phone, just me and my thoughts…which is usually not the greatest idea because I have the ability to work myself up in 2.2 seconds. After two days of feeling sorry for myself, I called to schedule my biopsy.
Three weeks later I was naked from the waist up and lying on my stomach with my right boob hanging through a hole in a table. Let’s just say this was not my idea of good time and to make matters worse the room smelled of a nasty cherry deodorizer. The doctor and his team of nurses were amazing…walking me through every step of the procedure. This time, I was certain I was going to vomit directly on that same pair of brown oxfords. One of the lovely nurses handed me a pink bowl instead. Once the procedure was over, I went home in very little pain and watched my pale breast change from pasty to the color of a plum. I was so enthralled with the color changes that I took daily photos to chronicle the shades. Weird, right?
Four days later, the word “atypia” entered my vocabulary. I received a call from my doctor, the results came back on my biopsy and there was “atypia” within the cells. He recommended a lumpectomy to remove the tissue. I knew full well what a lumpectomy was because my mother had one in her forties. I, however am 31 and the thought of having a scalpel near my breast, again, made me want to vomit.
A month later I was makeupless and sporting an uber sexy blue gown and hair thingy and being wheeled into a freezing cold operating room to have a golf ball size piece of tissue removed from my right breast. Was I scared? Yes, actually petrified! Was it painful? Not really. Did I vomit? Sure did.
The lumpectomy removed all of the “atypical” cells; however, I will need follow-up mammograms every six months. The two inch vertical scar that now adorns my breast is a daily reminder to take control, trust my body, and love myself.
You may be questioning why I am telling you all this…well, that’s because it’s Valentine’s Day and because I know we often forget to take care of ourselves. Our children, husbands, jobs, blogs and just life in general often takes priority and we forget to love ourselves.
So this Valentine’s Day I wanted to share my story in hopes of compelling some of you to give yourself that monthly once-over. Yes, I’m talking about self-driven breast exams. Not all problems make themselves annoyingly known like mine did. Take control of your own health, and start with this one simple thing. Have a Happy Valentine’s Day and remember to love yourself.