When Life Gives You Lumps...
I had a little (BIG) scare this last week.
My girl, Leftie, has been tender and hurting off and on for about 3-4 months. I never really thought anything of it, but I had my annual physical last Wednesday, July 21, and during the exam, I was telling my doctor about the pain and tenderness.
As she was checking things out, she felt not one, but TWO small lumps in the breast tissue.
Just what we need––yet ANOTHER life event to bring us down.
I am not going to lie. I'm so accustomed to bad news at this point that I wasn't really even shocked to learn about this new development.
Before I left the doctor's office, I was already picturing how the whole trajectory of our future would be changed forever if I had breast cancer:
An even bigger delay in starting our family, if that would even be an option
The fight for a family would suddenly be transformed to a fight for my life
What kind of wig would look good on me?
How would this news effect my husband, my family and my friends?
Call me a pessimist or a Debbie downer or whatever you wish, but unless you've lived in my shoes (reminder: I struggle with high anxiety) for the last 2+ years of negative result after negative result and hit after hit, you have no idea how difficult it is to be positive when served more bad news.
My doctor said we need to check this out, so I would be receiving a call later that day to schedule a mammogram and an ultrasound.
I called a friend from the parking lot of the doctor's office who I knew would tell it to me straight––what is a mammogram really like? What happens when they do an ultrasound? What happens if they find something and need to test it? Should I be worried?
I sat with my fear for a bit before I reached out to my family and a few other friends––how could yet another thing be happening to me that we may need to worry about? My circle of people who have cried with me, prayed for me, and consistently check up on me during this infertility journey do not deserve to be burdened with yet another worry about little 'ol me!
Yet, I knew I couldn't do this alone.
I needed love.
I needed support.
I needed ALL THE PRAYERS.
And they all delivered:
My dad pulled into my driveway with no warning and sat with me while I worked
My mom came down and spent the night
My husband held me in complete silence and told me everything was going to be OK (and brought me chocolate)
My in-laws loved on me
Friends sent encouraging messages and checked in and started a Words With Friends (remember that game?) competition to help keep my mind busy
My hairdresser (who is also my friend!) knows someone who works at the radiology place and was able to ask them how soon I would know results, which helped put my mind at ease
My boss even texted me the night before my appointment to wish me luck, and texted me afterwards to see how it went
The Longest Week Ever
Fortunately, they were able to schedule my mammogram and ultrasound exactly one week later (Wednesday, July 28).
It was a long week full of fear, anxiety and little to no sleep. You see, breast cancer runs in my family. In fact, my mom's mother actually passed away from breast cancer at age 55, before I was even born.
When I couldn't sleep at night, I Googled things (I know, this is NOT something you're supposed to do and not something I recommend).
As I was tossing and turning, I kept thinking about the major pause that we might have to put on our life and how it was so unfair, especially for my husband. We've come this far in our journey and may have to abruptly cancel our dreams of becoming parents because my body has betrayed me.
I woke up yesterday with tummy issues and my heart pounding through my chest. I had to be at my appointment by 9:15. Iowa Radiology happens to be across the street from our fertility clinic AND is the same place I had my HSG and where the doctor told us they found no sperm in Brian's first semen analysis.
I think we both felt a little PTSD as we entered the building.
When they called me back, Brian couldn't come with. The gal who took me back to the changing area made small talk and even shared that her name is Teri, spelled just like mine (you don't find a lot of us!) and is about my exact same age. I looked her dead in the eye and told her (through tears) that I was a complete, anxious wreck.
She reassured me that she would walk me through each step and that the procedures likely wouldn't be as bad as I was envisioning.
And she was right. The mammogram? PIECE OF CAKE. Like, it didn't hardly even hurt!
She took a couple images of each breast then took them to the radiologist to read to see if we needed to do any other imaging. About 10 minutes later, she came to tell me that they got all the images that they needed and I would need to wait about 30 minutes for my ultrasound.
I sat in the women's only waiting room, sporting my beautiful robe, and listened to all the buzz around me. Every time another woman was brought back, they asked her to verify her date of birth. I kept listening for the year: 1968, 1972, 1965, 1974, 1957.
No one even close to my age. How, at age 34, was I having my first mammogram?
What seemed like hours later, the ultrasound tech came to get me. I was happy to see this ultrasound room didn't have stirrups or a wand like all the other ultrasounds I've had to have lately.
You guys, the ultrasound hurt MORE than the mammogram. I was having some major pains and just couldn't wait for it to be over. As soon as she was done, she said she'd go have the radiologist review the images and come back with next steps.
The whole time she was gone, I could only assume they had found something. Why else would my boob hurt so bad?
About 10 minutes later, the ultrasound tech came back in the room and told me that both the mammogram and ultrasound didn't show anything we need to be concerned about.
HALLELUJAH! PRAISE THE LORD!
The culprit behind my breast pain and lumps most likely is all the hormones I've been on this year with the IUIs.
NOT 👏BREAST 👏CANCER. 👏
I can't even begin to describe the sense of relief that washed over me. I couldn't wait to run out to the waiting room and tell Brian the GREAT news!
Friends, when life gives you lumps–please go get them checked.
There are a bajillion different reasons why they may be there, but just get them checked. This served as a wakeup call to me to be more diligent with my annual physicals (like, I actually hadn't had one since early 2018).
Learn how to do your own at-home exams.
Make an appointment if something seems off.
Pay attention to any changes in your body.
Monitor tissue or lump changes regularly.
While I received some awesome news yesterday, I am highly aware of the woman who may have received an opposite result.
That could have been me.
That could have been you.
I will continue to monitor my lovely lady lumps for any changes or growth, but until then, it's time to get back to baby-making (the scientific way)!