*This is an older post from our archives, but we thought it was appropriate to share during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, as we seek to spread the word about how important it is to do consistent self-breast exams. We’ve added an awesome giveaway at the end of this post that is a helpful tool for creating more effective self exams.
I’ve debated about whether I wanted to blog about this, but lately, I’ve been processing a lot of things in my life through writing. So you get to be part of my “writing process.” If you recall, from my last post, I came down with a hefty case of mastitis. A week after all things cleared up I noticed a lump in my breast. Thinking proactively, I called my doctor and asked if I could come in for a check-up.
Fast forward to doctor’s appointment:
Doctor: You’re right, that is a lump. Why don’t you try nursing at a different angle, and continue with the warm compresses.
Me: Ok. Well how long do I wait to call you if it doesn’t go away?
Doctor: Well, are you thinking it’s more serious…like…cancer?
Me: uhhhh, yeah.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve been so conditioned to do self breast exams and keep an eye on anything abnormal, that the minute I find something “off”, of course I’m going to think that it might be cancer. Ok, is that just me? Maybe.
After meeting with my ob/gyn, we decided that she would put in an order for me to go to Fletcher Allen for an ultrasound to see if everything was ok. Last Wednesday, I had just pulled in to my driveway, both kids asleep in the back seat (unheard of!), and my phone rang. I knew it was Fletcher Allen calling to schedule my appointment. After a quick conversation, they informed me that they would like to do both an ultrasound AND mammogram. Things just got even more real up in here. I hung up the phone and sat in the car quietly. It was my 36th birthday by the way. I sat and watched both of my children sleeping sweetly in the back seat. Henry draped off of his booster seat, head resting on the armrest, and Ruby sucking on her pacifier every 10 seconds, like Maggie from The Simpsons. My appointment was set up for Tuesday morning, 6 days from that point. Plenty of time to freak out. And freak out I did.
It’s amazing how we let our mind wander to the worst possible thing when faced with something that could go really well or really bad. Why do we do this to ourselves? I spent the next 6 days in and out of tears…thinking things like…. this would be my last spring with my children. I would sit at the dining room table at night, seeing my husband interact with both kids, and picture myself not there and wonder how they would do without me. Terrible, I know. Totally irrational. But sometimes, it’s hard not to let our minds wander to the dark places. It’s normal, in my humble opinion.
Last year when I was pregnant, I had a few “scares” during the nine months of pregnancy. And during that time, I had heard about a book that was helpful to read during hard times: When Things Fall Apart, by Pema Chodron. Of course at the time, I was too knee deep in “freak out” mode to take a step back and read the book. This time around, I took the advice, a year later, and bought the book. I neglected all domestic duties and read almost half of it within one sitting. If you’re going thru a transition in life, facing adversity, or just wondering how to better deal with hardship when it comes your way, I highly recommend this book. I can already tell that I will likely read it over and over; it’s dense, full of wonderful words of wisdom, and useful. I even earmarked pages that were poignant for me:
“Life is a good teacher and a good friend. Things are always in transition, if we could only realize it. Nothing ever sums itself up in the way that we like to dream about. The off-center, in-between state is an ideal situation, a situation in which we don’t get caught and in which we can open our hearts and minds beyond limit. It’s a very tender, nonaggressive, open-ended state of affairs.” Pema Chodron.
Much of the book is based on Buddhist teachings/thought. I am not a Buddhist, but found practical wisdom in its pages. Over the last week, I feel like I have been put thru the emotional wringer. There have been moments of feeling completely positive and upbeat and then moments of fearing the worst. Instead of beating myself up about each of those moments, I took them for what they were…just moments. I also spent a lot of time with family and friends this past week. It’s helped so very much.
The night before my appointment, I savored every moment with my little family. I knew that if I got bad news at my appointment the next morning, it would change so much in our lives. Tuesday arrived bright and early. I was awoken not by my alarm, but by my sweet 8 month old rehearsing her newly found voice, and the “baa baa baa” sounds. Hard not to smile when you hear this. After several hours in the Breast Care Center, the radiologist told me everything looked normal. And just like that, the worry was over. I’d like to think that if I received bad news that morning I would immediately think back to some of Pema Chodron’s words. In all honestly, I probably would have fallen into a heap on the exam table and sobbed. But I’d also like to believe that I would eventually get up, surround myself with family, friends, and other women warriors and forge ahead. I have so much more to say and process, but this post would turn in to a book. I can’t be foolish to believe that more things like this won’t happen in my life as I get older. The only thing I can believe is that I will continually grow and adjust to be able to handle these hiccups with more and more insight and perhaps wisdom.
We are so thankful for Heather sharing her story, as it is a wonderful reminder about the importance of regular self-breast exams and bringing any irregularities to your doctor. Because we believe in this so strongly, we have a great giveaway for all you mommas! Plexus Worldwide has an amazing product called the Breast Chek kit. It consists of two micro-thin layers of polyurethane with a non-toxic lubricant sealed in between. When the Breast Chek is placed on the breast, the bottom layer gently adheres to the skin and remains stable allowing the upper layer to slide freely underneath your fingertips. As the upper layer slides freely over the bottom layer, friction is greatly reduced. This results in what is called “sensory touch magnification,” meaning that your sense of touch is greatly improved, which leads to more effective and accurate breast exams.
This kit was recently featured on the show The Doctors as a wonderful tool in aiding self-breast exams. Here is a video that tells more about the product and how it is used.
Arianne, a Plexus Ambassador, is giving away one Breast Chek kit to one of our readers! Enter the rafflecopter giveaway below for your chance to win.
[…] body betrayed me last week when I found out that I have cancer. Breast cancer. What? But it doesn’t run in my family, I said. I’m only 35, I said. I […]
Thanks for opening up and sharing this story with us. You are not alone in the fear department. So happy that everything came back good!
I can relate to fearing the worst. I’m so glad you had a clear screening!
I had the exact same experience a few years ago. And I responded in the exact same way. Glad to hear everything turned out to be fine.