Wednesday, April 13, 2011


So on Tuesday, the 5th, I went to see the surgeon. He attempted to aspirate the lump in my right breast one more time (long needle, lots of poking in all directions-OW) before concluding that it seemed less like a cyst filled with fluid and more like a solid lump. What fluid he did get out of there, he sent off for testing. Then, he sent me and my lump off with orders for a mammogram and an ultrasound. Having already missed an afternoon of work, I scheduled these tests for last Friday, my regular day off from work.

The day before the tests I made the mistake of Googling breast cancer and spent most of the rest of the day paralyzed with fear, since you can always find something that sounds like your situation when you Google.

Friday afternoon, my mother came over to watch S and I headed off to the radiology center. A very nice older lady named Carla took me back, had me take off my top and bra and put on a gown open to the front. Then, she proceeded to position me as if I was about to take the most awkward school picture ever-shoulder back, head turned this way, hips a little more this way, lay my arm along here. Then she grabbed my right breast with her hands and mashed it as flat as it could go against a clear plastic plate and pushed a button that sent another clear plastic plate pressing down on it HARD, told me to hold my breath, took the picture, and then let me relax before repositioning me for the next picture.

She took two pictures of each breast, and she showed them to me between each shot. Amazingly, most of the interior of my breasts looked like mesh netting, clear between the grid lines. Kind of like in the movie Weird Science, when Gary and Wyatt can't decide on how big the boobs should be on the girl they are making, and they size them up and down on their computer.

Image from "Weird Science"--most of my breasts looked kind of like this
on the mammogram, lines with dark spaces between them.

However, in my right breast, my lump appeared solid white and egg-shaped. It was larger than I could feel from the surface, going down into the center of my breast more than I expected. Seeing it was kind of overwhelming.

Carla took the images and went to see the doctor. He decided he wanted two more angles on the right breast (my left appears completely clear). Carla was apologetic as she positioned me for the next two pictures, as they were going to be more painful, she explained. Oh goody, I thought, kind of numb and in shock. Luckily, the doctor was satisfied after seeing these and Carla escorted me to another room to wait for my ultrasound.

By the time the two ladies came in to do my ultrasound a few minutes later, I was full-on crying and freaking out. I tried to get it together, but I couldn't help it. They gave me tissues and chattered on about random world news stuff (the rising price of gas, politics) in an attempt to distract me while they took tons of images of my lump from all angles, even from my armpit. They showed me none of the images. They left me in the room forever afterward while they checked that the doctor was satisfied with the images. He was, and they left me to get dressed and then showed me out.

When I got home and explained everything about the appointment to my mom, I broke down. "What if I have cancer? I don't want to be sick. I don't want to die. I don't want to lose my hair." I just sobbed and she hugged me and told me not to worry about it until the doctor got the results and called me. We'd deal with everything then.

I spent the rest of the weekend purposefully doing everything in my power to distract myself from thoughts of cancer...dinner out with my parents, playing in the backyard with S and my hubby, a playdate with another family at Sea World, anything to not think about the possibility of having cancer. (OK, I did think that if I had cancer and lost my hair I would invest in the best damn wig ever...I mean, my hair is so important to me and I spend so much money maintaining it, I could easily pour that money into an awesome wig, right? Aside from that, I tried not to think about it. At all.)

Monday afternoon, the surgeon called me while I was in a meeting with the president of my company. Of course. I called right back, but he was back in with a patient. I checked my voicemail, and he left me a very reassuring message that he was calling with my results, but there was no urgency! He would be in tomorrow if I wanted to call him then. He stressed the "no urgency" thing twice!

Last night, I finally got to talk with him and he informed me that my lump is a fibroadenoma, which is a benign tumor. Fibroadenomas are almost always benign; malignant in very rare cases. Based on the tests he had run on the cells taken from my lump, plus his review of the radiology report from my mammogram and my ultrasound, he feels very certain that it is benign. I am relieved.

He tells me we could watch it or we could take it out, it's my decision. I tell him I want it taken out as soon as possible. He thinks that's the best course and reiterates that he feels the fibroadenoma is benign; however, he then also tells me that the radiology report categorized my lump as Category Four, which means "suspicious/potential for malignancy." I'm going to get a copy of this report in my mail and he doesn't want it to alarm me. If he takes the lump out, he can have it thoroughly tested to be absolutely sure it's not malignant. Now, I'm less relieved and back to worrying.

So I'm having my fibroadenoma breast lump surgically excised in an outpatient procedure a week from Friday, which is actually Good Friday. I hope it is a good Friday for me. I've never really had a surgery or procedure requiring me to be under anesthesia, except for having my wisdom teeth extracted in 1994. I hope I recover easily. I hope I get good pain meds. I don't like pain. I HOPE IT'S REALLY BENIGN AND NOT CANCER.

My surgeon told me he plans to go in through the edge of my aureola so any scarring will be part of that darker skin and less noticeable. I'm not that worried about aesthetics since my boobs=NOT GLAM. They are small and already took a major hit after I had S (they dropped an inch and started to point in odd directions when I lay on my side-and I didn't even breastfeed!). It does occur to me that my right breast is my slightly smaller breast already, so I wonder if it will be more noticeably small after the fibroadenoma is removed. I SO DON'T CARE AS LONG AS IT'S NOT CANCER.

Now I'm feeling mild anxiety, because I just want to get my lump out and find out that everything is OK. It's going to be a very LOOOOOONG week or so until then. My husband is on call Easter weekend, so he's going to work from home and watch S the day of my surgery and my mom is going to go with me. Then, she and my dad are going to take S home with them that night, so I can rest and recover. I'm so lucky to have a great family and support system.

I'll just be happy when it's all over. I'm going to be on pins and needles until then. Please keep a good thought for me if you will. And please pray for everyone out there battling cancer in all its forms. I'm praying for them too.


  1. More prayers being offered. I have an extremely annoying fibroid tumor and while I knew that it is less than .5% chance of it being cancerous, when my husband heard the word "tumor" he was clamoring for a surgery date. My fibroid remains but I know that kind of anxiety well.

    It is hard as women to see ourselves as feminine when something involves a change to our breasts that make them appear "less than normal." While I have never had a breast surgery, I have known many breast cancer survivors and if you feel after the surgery that it is causing your depression or any negativity, seek help. There are good psychologists out there who can help! Many a BC survivor has informed me that some type of therapy is usually needed after a mastectomy or lumpectomy.

    And your story about your breasts changing after S's birth reminded me of something that makes me laugh. I don't know if you've ever watched 16 & Pregnant or Teen Mom but Farrah Abraham who was on season one of both in her 16 & Pregnant episode told her OB that she didn't want to breastfeed because it would make her boobs droopy while her mother looked on smiling and nodding approvingly. The OB looked her right in the eye and said, "No, it's pregnancy that makes them droopy." I had to laugh because Farrah's mother is such a control-freak who always believes she is right and she clearly was put in her place and Farrah spoke, at the age of 16, as a great authority. One of those "teachable moments."

    As always, praying for ease of mind as well as health!

  2. I'm hopeful for you. I think with each step, you know a little more about your situation and then you know how to respond. It's the not knowing that's killing you. Glad to hear surgery is only a week away versus months away - that way you'll know results of that lump sooner rather than later.

  3. Kristen, thanks so much for your prayers. I talked to my doctor today and he doesn't think my breast shape will be affected much as the tumor is new growth and when it is removed, I'll have a soft spot there, but in a few months my regular breast tissue will fill the space back in. So that was good to find out. I haven't seen "Teen Mom," but I've certainly heard of it--too funny!

    Nilsa, I appreciate your good thoughts as well. It's going to be a long week, but I've got a lot of work to do and S's Easter party at school to prep for, so I think that will keep me pretty busy and make it go by fast. :)

  4. Oh I'm going to stay hopeful for you, too.