Oh Lordie…Its a tumor.
Yesterday my doctor called me back and wanted me to go in the next morning for her to check out the breast lump on my left side. I called her secretary and made my appointment. My doctor then called again and asked me to please make sure I make my appointment soon.
This morning I went in to see her. I fully expected to be sent home from there, that my lump is nothing to worry about. I did not. She did a breast exam and felt the lump. She frowned and sent me to have a mammogram and/or ultrasound STAT. I left her office and went straight to the woman’s imaging center.
I checked in. The staff was obviously curios as to what a 28 year old was doing getting a mammogram. They handed me a little questionnair to fill out to asses my breast cancer risk. I realized that I have several strikes against me in favor of developing cancer. With each affirmative answer to the questions, I felt myself feeling less and less optimistic. Eight strikes in all.
Strike One: Any family history of breast cancer? Yes. Mom and grandmother just passed away. Mom had an estrogen-sensitive tumor(whatever the term is) meaning that her tumor “fed” off of estrogen.
Strike two: Any hormones such as estrogen, progesterone, or birth control? Yes. I was on very heavy doses of estrogen and progesterone during my fertility saga and pregnancy. I took fertility medication that increases your own estrogen and other hormones.
Strike three: Any personal history of breast lumps, benign or cancerous? Yes. That’s why I am here.
Strike four: Any breast leakage, discharge, fluid, blood, milk or otherwise? Yes. I have not nursed my baby or pumped in about 6 months and I have been wondering why it has not dried up completely yet. It turns out that some tumors increase prolactin levels which stimulate milk production.
Strike five: Is the leakage/milk/fluid one one side or both sides? Oh lordie, I thought to myself. It is almost completely on my left side, the same side as the lump.
Final question: Is the lump tender or tender during any part of your menstrual cycle? No. Apparently breast cysts tend to hurt, and tumors do not. Strike 6.
I later found out that most breast tumors occur in the milk ducts, which may explain why I kept getting a clogged duct behind the lump.
They called me back. Since I was still producing milk, they decided to instead do a ultrasound to view the lump. The technician was super-sweet and largely waved off my worries because I’m young and it is probably just some trapped milk in the tissues. I laid back and lifted my arm above my head. I pointed to the lump. She squeezed out the cold gel over the spot and placed the wand on it. A dark mass came into view. She started to frown a little. She marked the size- about 1 cm wide and shaped a lot like an egg. After she took her measurements, her voice was an octave higher as she tried to smile reassuringly and she left to get the doctor.
A hyper, middle aged skinny doctor came in. He took a look at the mass and commented on the size/shape. He said that it is a tumor. He said that the fact that it looks like an egg is in my favor. That due to my age, that he is about 90% sure that it is a benign growth. He wanted to do a biopsy of it to determine if it is benign or not. I told him more about my history, how it has tripled or doubled in size recently from a tiny bead/pea shape and size to this little egg shaped one. (Strike 7). How my mom’s tumor started off looking exactly like an egg in her left breast. I asked him about how I can slow down the growth because at this rate it will be deforming in the near future. He then changed his tune a little and recommended that I go ahead and try to get in and see a breast surgeon to see about having a lumpectomy to remove the probably benign tumor. He repeated the fact that I am so young, so it is probably benign and that the biopsy will let us know for sure the nature of the tumor.
During the ultra-sound, he switched the screen over to do a temperature reading. This is because tumors need a good blood supply and recruit blood vessels from the surrounding tissue. The result, if it is indeed a tumor, will show plenty of red coloring indicating warmth/increased blood flow to the growth. It lit up bright red. Strike 8. Please don’t let me be out.
Every time he said the word “tumor” it felt like a slap in the fact with cold, hard reality. That I am not 100% safe from tumors for the time being. It left me feeling very vulnerable. I hope whoever is reading this will make sure that they take charge of their breast cancer screenings at any age.
He gave me a results paper that stated that my findings were abnormal. His staff said that they would go ahead and call my doctor and let her know my results and pending biopsy. I will go in for my biopsy (stereostatic, I think it is called) next Thursday which will be done by the same doctor. They will numb the area and then shoot this hollow-core needle into the tumor 5-6 times. The needles removes “cores” of the tissue each time. They will then look at it to determine the nature of the growth. So I should know the results the following week on Monday or Tuesday.
The cancer nurse/tech gently encouraged me to consider having it removed, just to be safe, especially since it has grown a good bit recently. I said that I would. I thanked her and left.
C was waiting in the waiting room with Nathan. My face did not show anything. I felt kind of in a daze, plus I was tired from waking up at 3 am worrying about the stupid lump. I handed him my results paper so that I could get Nathan’s jacket on, not intending for him to read it. He opened it anyways and frowned. “Um, well its a tumor but he is pretty sure that it is benign. But I have to get a biopsy next week to be sure.” His face dropped. I felt so badly for him. He is just as nervous as I am, but thankfully he is optimistic. As for me, the odds are significantly in my favor. Still, this whole experience has been slightly traumatic, especially since I know exactly what I will have to suffer through should it be malignant. Even if it is benign, this is way to close to cancer for my comfort. It makes me nervous about the future because no 28 year old woman should be developing tumors or any sort. Oh well. This next week will be challenging. I suspect my sleep will be disturbed more often than not. But I will try to keep my mind off of it and not think too much about it until I know for sure if it is cancerous or not. Stupid tumor. How I hate thee!