Even if you weren’t taking notice of any changes in your breasts all year, you surely can’t ignore them in the month of October. It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month and everything’s PINK!
Both private and public bodies are taking an interest in your chest this month (not creepy at all), and they all want you to get them checked out. Whether you’re doing your breast self-exam at home, having your doctor take a look at it at your next visit, or getting your mammogram done once you’re eligible, you should definitely have your breasts examined routinely for any abnormalities.
No one really prepares you for that, do they? Nothing can. Trust me, I was just about ready to start planning my funeral when I found out I have one a few months ago. Spoiler alert: my lump turned out to be benign (non-cancerous). But if you have a lump or two that are weighing on your conscience, or you’re just already too invested in the story to stop, read on to see how you can handle this little bump in the road.
1. Wah dis?
I started noticing a little nub in my right breast some months after I stopped breastfeeding, when the glorious perky babes were beginning to make their exit stage left and I was pretty much back to my chest-of-a-twelve-year-old-boy.
Overtime the milk network in there just sort of vanished, except for this one tiny little area. Honestly, my first thought when I noticed that it was a lump was ‘Psshh, I don’t even have breasts. There’s no way I’m even a candidate for breast cancer.’ I ignored it.
2. Watch it
As badly as I wish it did, the lump never really went away. It would become less noticeable at certain times of the month, and more prominent at others, but there it was, just lumping around in my chest. It didn’t hurt. It wasn’t stuck in one spot. There were no dimples or any other visible changes in the breast. I thought about mentioning it to my doctor or a friend at several points, but I felt like saying it out loud would make it too real, and force me to have to deal with it. I kept pushing it to the back of my mind and pushing down the lump in my throat. (By the way, you should definitely skip this step. It’s not worth the anxiety).
3. Get it checked
Can’t hide from a lump forever, can you now? Eventually I mentioned it to someone close to me and surely enough (sadly), it was not a figment of my imagination. They felt it, too. So did my gynaecologist, Dr Jordan Hardie (who you should totally check out if you need a gentle male OB/GYN), and so did the doctor doing the physical exam when I was starting a new job a few months ago. So yeah. I had to deal with it.
The scariest part about this is waiting for the result, to be honest. If you’ve ever been pregnant, it’s exactly the same procedure for a breast ultrasound, just, you know, on your chest area instead of your abdomen. Same cold gel. Same soothing wand rubbing all over. Same fascinated look on the radiologist’s face as they measure things and look at their screen.
BTW. You can expect this to cost you anywhere between eight and fifteen thousand Jamaican dollars without insurance. You’ll pay less if you’re insured depending on your plan.
5. Life goes on
You cannot imagine how relieved I was when the report confirmed what my doctor thought it was — a fibroadenoma (why does it have to have such a scary name, right?). As it turns out, they’re pretty common (way more common that breast cancer) especially in younger women. They’re pretty harmless, painless, and sometimes disappear by themselves around menopause, so there’s not really much that needs to be done about it beyond checking it out every few years to make sure it’s not changing or growing.
If you think you have a lump in your breast, try not to panic. It doesn’t mean that you have, or are more likely to develop breast cancer. Like mine, your lump could very well be a fibroadenoma, or another type of non-cancerous breast lump.
But I’m not the expert here. I’ve asked my doc to answer a few questions about fibroadenomas and other types of non-cancerous breast lumps, in this next post. ⬇️