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Happy Valentine’s Day: Love Yourself

by Jamie on February 14, 2011

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.


{ 153 comments… read them below or add one }

Always Wright February 15, 2011 at 11:25 pm

I joined KitchenAid on Facebook and I love KitchenAid.

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Lauren February 16, 2011 at 12:04 am

How great to to be reminded about this outside of October! I am sorry about what you are going through. This topic is very close to my heart because my grandma is a breast cancer survivor. She had it in her early 30′s and had a double mastectomy. Thank you for sharing your story.

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christina February 16, 2011 at 9:32 am

Thank you for sharing. I’m way over due with my mammogram, and this is a good reminder for me to go do it.

Take care and God bless!

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Janet February 16, 2011 at 9:38 am

Hugs to you for sharing this with us. I’m sorry you had to endure this. My mom had a bi-lateral mastectomy 30 years ago, and one would think I would religiously check myself, but I’m always quite scared to. I’m grateful to you for the reminder, yet so wish you hadn’t had to live it to do so.

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Scott February 16, 2011 at 10:27 am

Thank you for sharing your story. I shared this with my wife and discovered that she is actually going in to her doctor’s today (if the snow storm allows us out of the driveway) for her exam. I do have to admit, I would feel creepy telling anyone else other than my wife to get an exam, so just one entry for me.

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Scott February 16, 2011 at 10:33 am

@asideofpain follows @kitchenaidusa and @bakingaddiction on and did the requested tweet.

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Scott February 16, 2011 at 10:33 am

I already follow MBA and KitchenAid on Facebook. :-)

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Jan at Jewelry4Change February 16, 2011 at 11:10 am

Thank you for sharing this personal experience with us. I’m so sorry you had to go through it all.
I lost my 46 year old sister to breast cancer, and then a few years later I was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer myself. After lumpectomies were not able to get to all of the tissue, I had a double mastectomy… then months of chemotherapy, and several reconstructive surgeries. I was off work for 2 years. It was certainly not an easy experience, but there were many blessings along the way. I share this because I’ve heard women say, “I don’t get mammograms because it hurts,” or “I don’t want to know.” Please ladies, get your mammograms, do self exams… and tell everyone else to do so also. If breast cancer is caught early it is so much easier to deal with.
Jamie, you may be saving lives by sharing your story. THANK YOU.
(Today I’ll remind my friend Debbie to get her mammograms.)
Jan

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Courtney (greeneyedrunner) February 16, 2011 at 1:30 pm

you are beautiful.

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Avanika (Yumsilicious Bakes) February 16, 2011 at 2:38 pm

Oh no Jamie! You are extremely brave for sharing this with us, I hope the best for you!!

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Barbara Lambert February 16, 2011 at 3:35 pm

Glad that you knew to not be a perfect patient. We all have to be our own advocates. My Mother died from Inflammatory Breast Cancer. It is one of the rarer and more deadly forms.

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Amanda February 16, 2011 at 4:19 pm

What a scary experience, but thank God all worked out in the end. The reminder is needed. I’m almost 44 and keep putting off a mammogram. I need to get that appointment set right away.

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charissa February 16, 2011 at 11:49 pm

you are an incredibly strong woman, a true inspiration and very blessed.
:)

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1 Funky Woman February 17, 2011 at 12:10 am

I believe you coming out and telling your story, will help get women to worry about their health. My sister had a similar scare just last week and my friend was diagnosed with breast. Cancer. Both of these made me run in for my mammogram!

Megan

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Kristie February 17, 2011 at 9:15 am

Thank you for sharing your story! I have never had a mammogram. I am now looking into scheduling one for the near future. Best wishes, and I hope things continue to workout for you!

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Laura L. February 17, 2011 at 12:32 pm

Thanks for your bravery in sharing this with us and the reminder to take care of ourselves and our bodies. We take for granted that we feel okay. We got to be more pro-active. Glad you did what you needed to do. Here’s hoping everything turns out okay. xoxoxoxo.

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Kitty February 18, 2011 at 1:05 pm

I have 4 sisters, and my mother! I reminded all 5 of them! This is so important and awesome!

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Kitty February 18, 2011 at 1:08 pm

I follow you both and tweeted!

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Kitty February 18, 2011 at 1:10 pm

I like you on Facebook!

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Kitty February 18, 2011 at 1:10 pm

I like you Kitchen Aid on Facebook!

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terri February 18, 2011 at 4:10 pm

Thank u so much for sharing your very personal story. You could very well be responsible
for saving a life or lives!!! ( including YOUR own!!!)
xo

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Becca February 18, 2011 at 8:57 pm

I just found your blog today because of homemade Oreos, then found this post. Thank you for sharing this. I need to be more diligent in my monthly checks. I too, have a baking addiction so I look forward to reading more from you!

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Jill B February 19, 2011 at 9:01 am

Thank you for sharing, for trusting us all, and for using your platform! Just, thank you. :)

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yolanda February 19, 2011 at 5:58 pm

thanks for sharing such a personal story……what a great reminder for the rest of us!!

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Melissa@LivingonGodsgrace February 20, 2011 at 2:00 am

J-you are such a strong woman for not settling for less and advocating on your behalf. As the queen of pity parties, you moved forward. What an amazing testimony. Thanks for opening up and being transparent to us blogger friends. Health issues has no age limits and by you sharing is a wake up call to ALL of us. Thank you.

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Mac February 20, 2011 at 6:31 pm

Hi there, Jamie, what a beautiful way to remind us all how important it is to love ourselves and to take our health care into our own hands. You are brave to share your story, and we all thank you for it. Breast cancer has hit our family very hard, so I’m always appreciative of those women who take the time to share their stories with others and encourage us all to take good care of ourselves. Thank you!

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michelle February 20, 2011 at 6:34 pm

Thank you for this beautiful post. My aunt had a tumor in her breast last year, after a lumpectomy she is completely cured. I reminded my mom to get her mammogram, and she told me she got one in September.

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Kirstin February 20, 2011 at 6:37 pm

Very brave of you to share your story. I went through some hard times after a PAP gone wrong. Women should know their bodies – you know best when something isn’t right.

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Bobette February 20, 2011 at 6:48 pm

Thanks for sharing.

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Patti February 20, 2011 at 7:24 pm

Thank you for not making this terrifying.

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Erin February 20, 2011 at 7:54 pm

This brought me to tears. Thank you for sharing such a personal story Jamie.

My family has recently come face to face with cancer, breast cancer to be more specific, for the very first time. I seem to have a very large and relatively healthy family, which is unusual. Only 2 people (my grandfather and one cousin) have died. I think there are times when I have even felt like my family is somehow immune to disease and death. But my great aunt on my mother’s side was diagnosed and underwent a radical mastectomy this year. Yes, it is only February. I don’t do monthly BSEs and I really need to. I have decided that I am going to make a point of doing it on the first of every month and will mark it on my calendar until it becomes routine. Like Jan said above, my mom refuses to get mammograms because they hurt. I’ve never had one before so I can’t relate but her excuse was that our family is low-risk. Well, unfortunately that’s not the case anymore, not to mention a poor excuse.

Anyway, thanks for the reminder. <3

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Fawn Belthem February 20, 2011 at 8:48 pm

Thank you for sharing. I reminded my two sister’s to do their monthy self check.

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Marlis February 20, 2011 at 9:35 pm

Thanks for sharing this. I don’t think anything I could say right now would adequately describe how I feel after reading your story. Thanks again.

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Kristin February 21, 2011 at 9:49 pm

Thank you so much for sharing. Your blog post will have a positive impact on a lot of people, including myself.

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LP February 22, 2011 at 10:58 am

Thank you for sharing this- your mom was very wise to teach you about empowering yourself with respect to your health care. I had a similar experience a year ago; I was 22 at the time. Ladies, it is NEVER to early to do a self-exam! I was lucky enough to receive good news after my surgery and I am thankful every day. Again, thank you for being so courageous to share your story!

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Evelene Sterling February 22, 2011 at 1:53 pm

Thanks for an important reminder. I emailed this message to my daughter.

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Evelene February 22, 2011 at 1:55 pm

My cousin has stage 4 breast cancer, but she said it started in her armpits, so ladies anything that seems strange regarding breast, lymph nodes should be checked out. I also sent an email to my niece Ange.

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Evelene February 22, 2011 at 1:58 pm

I also sent two more email’s to my niece Lisa and my sister-in-law Lisa.

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Delishhh February 22, 2011 at 3:32 pm

I was just catching up on my blog reading and saw this story. I had to read it twice just because it really got to me. Not that i had a similar experience but i would have reacted the same was as you did, word by word. Awesome story! I am with you that i don’t like to share a lot of my person life on my blog, i some times want to and then i end up not to :)

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Megan February 23, 2011 at 4:44 am

Thank you for sharing such a personal part of your life and such an encouraging message. Cancer is a fact that lurks at the surface of my family’s life. My husband fought (and won) his second battle with cancer a little over a year ago. We celebrate now that he has hair…woohoo! Spreading the word to always get checked when things are “off” is so important. My husband and I are both in our twenties…so it can happen to anyone.

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SP February 23, 2011 at 11:36 am

I have tears in my eyes after reading this. Came here for cupcake recipes and, am leaving with a new mission to accomplish between now & the end of the day: to remind all the women in my life how critical it is to self-test and, yes, as you put it, take care of ourselves.

Phew . . . thank you for sharing.

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Letiita February 24, 2011 at 10:03 am

Thanks for sharing your story. I hope to be a six-year survivor in April. Early detection does make a difference!

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Jamie February 24, 2011 at 5:25 pm

Letiita-
Thanks so much for visiting and taking the time to comment. I wish you the best, thanks so much for helping to spread the word about early detection!
-Jamie

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Carole February 24, 2011 at 2:36 pm

You were brave and generous to share this post. You were smart to insist that your hunch be folloowed up. Nowadays we all need to be advocates of our own health care. I’m glad that you are okay (and you ARE). I’ve been through a number of biopsies and a lumpectomy and there is something reassuring to have frequent follow ups/mammograms. If there is anything, and that is a big “if”, you’ll know and be able to deal with it quickly.

BIG hugs for you.

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Amy @ ElephantEats February 24, 2011 at 3:32 pm

Hi Jamie:) I’m new to your blog and was scrolling through some past posts to catch up, when I came across this. Firstly, I’m so glad they caught your atypia when they did! Also, I was wondering how you knew something was “off?” I’m always paranoid about these things and often think there’s a new pain or lump, so I just wanted to know what specifically felt different to you.

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Jamie February 24, 2011 at 5:23 pm

Amy-
Thanks for visiting and taking the time to leave a comment. By “off” I felt soreness and tenderness from time to time, especially when sleeping. Have a great day! Take care!
-Jamie

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cheree February 25, 2011 at 4:15 pm

Thank you for being so transparent on this issue. It is so hard to take care of ourselves. I found a lump in my early twenties. I had to go through the ultrasound, mammogram and finally a biopsy. I was newly married and the whole scenario was petrifying. Not to mention that the biopsy needle was huge. Thankfully they decided that it was benign scar tissue from an accident I was in as a child. Nonetheless, it is scary to walk this road. Thank you for sharing. We all need to be aware of our bodies and our health and to be advocates for our own health.

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Kristen February 25, 2011 at 4:43 pm

Wow – what a wonderful post to share with everyone. I’m sure it wasn’t easy reliving those moments but I have no doubt it will help someone. I have had an Rx in my purse for 5 months to get a baseline mammogram (absolutely nothing wrong – just a baseline because I’m “getting older”) but I keep putting it off. I am calling first thing Monday to schedule the appt. I appreciate your honesty about how you thought it might feel (which is how I think it will feel) but then saying it didn’t hurt that much. Good luck with your continued follow-up.

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The Teacher Cooks February 26, 2011 at 9:05 pm

What a great post to share with everyone!

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Colleen February 28, 2011 at 4:48 pm

Thank you so much for sharing this. And I am so sorry that you had to go through that experience. I hope that you will stay healthy and happy. A mammogram is something that I have been putting off forever……its on my mind but I just don’t get around to it. Hugs xx

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Sheryl March 1, 2011 at 3:23 pm

Thank you for sharing your story. I too had a scare almost the same as you. I even went through the process of having a mammogram. The MD’s said there was no pathology to worry about and that my general MD or OB could do another test to make sure. My next appt. rolled around and the OB didn’t feel that there is a need to do a biopsy, rather I have Fibrocystic breast changes. She recommended I lower my salt intake and take either vitamin E or primrose oil. I still have a little firmer than normal lump and check it all the time to make sure it doesn’t grow any larger. I hope her direction is right…

Thank you again for sharing your story.

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donna lubanski September 22, 2013 at 2:40 pm

Stay positive, I have been cancer free for 11 years. Good luck and go get a notebook to note any changes in your body

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