Monday, November 8, 2010

Me and My Girls

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My breasts and I have recently had a falling out. For the last few years our relationship has had it's ups and downs but overall we've still seen eye to eye or nipple to nipple as the case may be. I don't ask much from them and I've never had much cause to complain. My husband has often found me standing in front of the mirror topless doing my breast checks and then pausing to give them a nod of approval. The truth is I adore these two life partners of mine. After a rocky battle with self esteem as a teenager, my breasts in later years have become one of my favourite body parts. They are well loved and only since 2008 has their health been something of concern.

In 2008 I found a large lump in my right breast approximately 3.5cm long. My breasts are rather dense and had this lump not been so large I likely would have missed it. I had an appointment with our doctor to update our adoption medicals and upon showing her my lump she announced it was a tumor. I remember giving her the side eye and thinking "I'm pretty sure you can't just go around telling people they have breast tumors." My husband was in the room as well for our medical update and we both were pretty stunned by this remark. She informed me I'd need an ultrasound and she explained it felt like fibroadenoma, a non-cancerous breast condition.

My ultrasound was booked for 5 months down the road and I'm still rather surprised how long the wait was. I remember feeling confident it was nothing but a tad nervous that if it was cancer a five month wait without treatment on a large tumor wasn't the best option. I was nervous but for the most part I was confident everything was ok. My doc seemed unconcerned which was a good sign in my eyes!

My ultrasound eventually came and it was indeed benign and has since disappeared. They also found multiple small cysts, but nothing alarming. I was told I'd have yearly ultrasounds to keep an eye on things which seemed reasonable. I had both breasts examined in 2009 and they came back with 20-30 small cysts. Annoying, but not alarming.

A couple weeks ago however I got rather sudden and severe breast pain. The left side of my left breast was inflamed, hot, and red. I assumed I had an inflamed cyst and left it. The next day however it was even more sore and red so I decided to see my doc. When I showed him my breast he was eying it with concern. I figured I would make his job easier by informing him it was an infected cyst and could he just aspirate it and I'd be on my way. He shook his head and said that wasn't an option since it was too hard and it was a breast abscess not a cyst. My poor lovable breast was full of puss and infection. I wasn't thrilled by this but I figured no biggie. He gave me some antibiotics and asked to see me the next day. Now this got my panties in a big ole knot. I'd like to think that since he had now seen the goods he was hooked and wanted me to return with them often for his viewing pleasure, but something about the deepening crease in his forehead made me suspect otherwise. I must have looked taken aback (I am cursed by a face that expresses every thought), because he then changed it to the day after as long as I agreed to come back if there was any change whatsoever in the interim. I was also to sit in the waiting room while they made my ultrasound appointment. By now I was a bit freaked. He told me this could be serious but that we would figure this out. Abscesses are not common in breasts so we needed to do our due diligence. I probably should have been relieved he was so aggressive in my treatment but truthfully it scared the shit out of me.

I went back on Saturday and by-passed the lineup which may be the coolest thing in my story. Being ushered in upon arrival felt pretty vip. He examined it again, and I finally asked should I be worried? He replied that it was concerning and that's why we needed to get to the bottom of this. Medical concerns in breasts should not be taken lightly. Only one form of breast cancer presents itself like my infection and that is inflammatory breast cancer. A very rare and aggressive cancer. He assured me he wouldn't miss a thing though and his confidence was somewhat calming. While waiting for my ultrasound I was terrified. I suddenly didn't want to be alone despite being a notorious anti-social loner. I had every awful thought running through my head including the fact I would never meet my children. I was a complete basket case. I had less than a week waiting for my ultrasound but it felt much longer than the previous five month wait in 2008.

My husband asked the technician if he could come in with me for my ultrasound to which she replied "It's not for a baby just a breast". I was tempted to inform her he was a bigger fan of breasts than babies, but instead we both ignored her and he came in anyways. We tried to read the ultrasound but as it happens neither one of us is a trained medical professional.

Friday came and I was feeling anxious. When I went to our doc my ultrasound was still not in but as he examined and poked and prodded once more he announced it was not behaving like breast cancer. Phew!!!! I felt the biggest relief in my life. He'll be phoning me with the results and next steps and I'll be very closely monitored but I feel the worst fear is over.

I had a lot of thoughts the past couple weeks. I was petrified to my bones and at times could feel the fear crawling down my spine. I pondered my time on earth and was I doing what I wanted? Was I living a fulfilling life? I realized that I love where I am. I love my husband and family and friends and I love to write. I love to write this blog and I am enjoying writing my book. I am pretty satisfied with the way my life has turned out. I have a husband who took a couple days off to spend with me while I was a severely nervous wreck. Friends who prayed for me and a couple amazing girls who let me e-mail them everyday in my chaotic stressful manner. My amazing Mom also patiently listened to my fears everyday. I must be doing something right because when I was most scared I had these incredible people sending me love.

Breast cancer is very scary. As women we are reminded of it everywhere in advertising, Kleenex boxes, bus stops, and most of us know someone who has had it. Breast health is important and as a good friend of mine recently confided she has never checked her breasts before, I encourage everyone to be diligent. Finding a lump is nothing to be terrified about but it is important to be aware and have your doctor examine. The same goes for pap smears. Take good care of your girl parts because if anything ever were to happen early detection can make a world of difference.

lots of love, Jxxxx


  1. Wow Jessa. You are very brave, not just in your ordeal(s) but in sharing. Thank you for your honesty and candour - it is hugely appreciated and greatly respected.

    I love reading your blog and am eagerly awaiting your book :)

  2. So glad to hear it's nothing too serious.

    Still not cool to have to go through all of that though.

    Boooo to lumps in boobs.

  3. I wish I knew how to overcome my absolute panic in the face of anything health-related. You know, like a slight ache in a leg for half a day. You seem to be keeping things pretty much in perspective, and hope this is all resolved quickly for you!

  4. I'm so sorry you had to go through this lady!! It is terrifying just to read! :(

  5. What a difficult thing to go through. You are such a strong person!


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