22 January 2012

The Post About Breasts. And Cancer.

A long time ago - really, more than 20 years ago - I felt a lump in my breast. I trotted off to my gynecologist, she tried a needle aspiration, and sent me to a surgeon. Both the GYN and the surgeon were pretty sure it was a benign tumor, and I sort of shrugged and figured it wasn't worth doing anything about. Then I told my mother. She freaked - "how could you even think of not having it out?" - so I had it out. It was benign, a fibroadenoma. Having it out was the probably right thing to do - it would likely have gotten bigger, and would have been harder to excise later. But I really did think about doing nothing.

Sometime last year, I noticed a dark spot in my bra - and honestly? I figured I'd dropped chocolate into my cleavage. Then I saw a couple of drops of blood on the bed sheet - I asked my husband to tell me if I had a bleeding zit on my back. Finally, I realized that there was a tiny bit of dark ooze coming from my nipple. That's when I called my doctor.

My gynecologist managed to express a drop of greenish fluid, too little to even culture, so she sent me to a breast surgeon, and the quick answer is - after a number of office visits, multiple mammograms, and several breast ultrasounds - there's nothing the matter with me. It was probably a tiny little blockage or infection, there's been no discharge since, and yeah! I don't have breast cancer.

But.

In the past few months, two friends have been newly diagnosed with breast cancer, both cases found during routine mammograms. I've lost track of how many people I've known who've had breast cancer. Some of them have died, some of them have been successfully treated.

And Susan? Susan Niebur? Maybe you know her as WhyMommy, or as Toddler Planet. She's one of the most remarkable people I know - and yes, I've met her at several of the BlogHer conferences. She's been fighting a particular pernicious cancer for almost five years, with breathtaking grace. Send her your love - through the intertubes or in your heart - or by getting your own mammogram, joining the Army of Women, or supporting the Inflammatory Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

Love to you, Susan.

16 comments:

heidi said...

Gah!
I recently had a scare as well. Test after test, until they finally did a biopsy, at which they removed enough tissue to feed a small cat. I watched as they put it in the petrie dish. Days later, I found out it was benign. I thanked my sagging boobies, and told them I'll never make fun of them again!

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

It is my wish that all women could be as proactive as you and I and your friends are--getting screened, having follow-up tests and getting treatment if/when necessary.

I have never met WhyWommy in person, but she certainly is a warrior and her story is heartbreaking.

Janet said...

I just had a follow up mammogram ... Nothing, phew! I'm glad nothing turned up for you, too

AnnetteK said...

I'm so glad you're okay. I know far too many women with breast cancer. I'm thinking about Susan a lot lately, these last few days especially.

Patois said...

Good points you make, all of them. Glad for you but sorry for so many others.

Jody said...

I'm glad you're OK. I had a scare once too, and it's unpleasant. I need to schedule my next mammogram...

Stimey said...

Cancer is so cruel. You're just doing your thing, living your life, and in the blink of an eye, everything changes. My love to you and gratitude that you are okay, love to your friends and most especially to Susan, whom I love so very much.

Amanda said...

You. Yes. I've told IBC tidbits to so many people, all thanks to Susan. She is a force. Always.

Mental P Mama said...

IBC should be on every woman's radar. And I am so GLAD you are okay. That is scary! I hate cancer. Hope to start my radiation soon and kick it the f*ck out of my body.

liz said...

Amen.

V-Grrrl @ Compost Studios said...

My mom died of breast cancer. Every year when I get my mammogram, I smile and hold myself together and then have a good cry in the parking lot at the doctor's office.

Here's the crazy thing: I have had the same GYN, same primary care doctor, and same mammogram technologist for over 20 years. All THREE of these women have breast cancer! All three of the women in charge of my breast health!!!

Lollipop Goldstein said...

I was reading this post in my heart in my throat. I am so glad that you're okay.

susan said...

Cancer sucks. I have been so full of feelings for and about Susan these past few months especially--what a remarkable woman.

shrink on the couch said...

thanks for the reminder, I am due. very relieved for you because the bleeding symptom? I'd have been very worried. Glad to learn even that symptom can be a false alarm. whew.

snozma said...

I have one of those irrational beliefs nothing like that could happen to me but I was required to have a mammogram for various reasons and dang--while I was in there getting it, it just felt very obvious that I was an idiot and in denial. (I do check my breasts sort of randomly now and again).

Various women I know have gotten it also. Like everyone, I feel the shadow it casts on women.

Marinka said...

So scary. But an important reminder. I'm getting mammogrammed this week.