A lump.

A lump. Two words.  That’s all it takes for any woman to know exactly what you mean.

At this very moment in time I have no idea if I have breast cancer or not, but by the end of this post I will know. I’m writing this post after an incident the weekend of February 16th.  If you’ve ever had a cancer scare you know the drill.  Something’s wrong, you Google everything that wrong thing could be and definitely decide it’s probably cancer.

Loose teeth?  Must be cancer.  Yellow fingernails?  Cancer.  Unable to watch an entire episode of Game of Thrones?  Regrettably … cancer.

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The problem is … when you find a lump in your breast, that’s really the most logical direction for your mind to go.

On Saturday morning I woke up with a sore spot on my boob. Not the whole thing, it wasn’t radiating, it was in one place.  I poked around and my knees went weak when I felt a lump. A big one.

Google, Google, Google.  Pain isn’t associated with breast cancer – usually.  Good.  But sometimes it is.  Bad.  Google, Google, Google. Could be breast cancer, cysts, fibrosomething or an abscess. All kind of unfortunate but only seems like its goal in life is to make you miserable and possibly kill you.

As I sit here, I am certain of two things.  That all the men are currently scrambling to close this post as fast as they possibly can, and that even having the remote possibility of cancer descending on you can completely justify eating an entire bag of Ruffles with dip.

As is often the case with something like this, it happened on a Saturday morning which meant I had the whole weekend to try to not freak out. Plus I had to wait through Monday as well because Monday was a holiday.  By Tuesday morning nothing had changed so I knew I had to make a Doctor’s appointment.  Also by Tuesday morning I couldn’t concentrate longer than 2.5 seconds on anything.

When I finally got to call my Doctor 3 days after my discovery I was told she would be unable to attend to my crisis on account of she was holidaying.  Would I mind going to see a stranger Doctor in another city who’s been out of medical school for precisely 1 year.

Ummmmmm.

So off I went to see Dr. One Year knowing it really didn’t matter. This appointment was going to end with her ordering me to get an ultrasound and a mammogram. I knew that. I mean if I couldn’t tell whether it was cancer with my 3 straight days of Googling and poking myself then she wouldn’t be able to tell either.

I sat alone in the office waiting, thinking this is why women have husbands.  This might be the only real reason to have a husband.  So someone can sit in the waiting room with you holding you tightly so you don’t donkey kick the chatty woman next to you.

At this point I haven’t told anyone because there is nothing to tell other than My boob is being weird. Oh and Dr. Google says it’s cancer.  Best not to say anything until I actually know something.

I got an appointment that very day.  After the Doctor examined me (by some stroke of good luck I was seen by a senior physician) she told me to get dressed and wait while she made a phone call.

I could hear the some of the call from the outside of my examination room.

Suspicious.

Urgent.

Ultrasound and Mammogram.

Those were the only words I heard. At least they’re the only words I remember hearing.

The Doctor came back into my room and explained that she was sending me for tests at the hospital I originally had a mammogram about 2 years ago.  At least I thought it was 2 years ago.  Turns out it was 4.

I kept meaning to make an appointment.

I’ve been told that as an urgent case I should be given an appointment within the next couple of days.  And that’s where we are right now.  With me at home, the night after my initial Doctor’s visit waiting for a call to confirm my urgent mammogram appointment.

 


February 22

After 4 days of waiting and 17 bags of Ruffles I finally got a phone call telling me I got an appointment at the breast assessment centre.  For March 7th.  17 days after my initial Doctor’s appointment. Now I don’t know if you know this but Cancer time is a little different than regular time.  When you’re waiting for results, time slows downnnnnn and each day lasts approximately 1 year.  That means my appointment was going to feel like waiting for 17 years.


February 26

The breast assessment centre called to say they had a cancellation and could I come the very next morning?  Yes.  Yes I can.  Not even a blizzard could stop me, which by the way we’re supposed to be hit with the at the very time my new appointment is.  That’s O.K.  I’m full up with Ruffles and have an extra layer of protective fat. I’ll walk the 12 kilometres if I have to.

It’s now the evening of February 26th as I write this and I don’t mind telling you I feel quite ill from the stress of it all.  The pain is gone, I don’t have that anymore so one of my symptoms has disappeared.  However for the past week I’ve had a fever.  This is giving me hope that I’m only riddled with some time of non-lethal pussy infection.  I’m almost certain that’s the correct spelling of pussy.  As in filled with puss.  I understand it reads a bit differently, but I can assure you only one of my lady parts is malfunctioning – my boob.


February 27

 

At least it’s a beautiful building.  Beauty is calming so walking into this as opposed to a cinderblock dungeon somewhere in the basement of a hospital is much appreciated.

My appointment took place at 9:45 a.m. in this facility in the middle of a snow storm.  First up mammogram.  Actually first up getting into the contraption they call a “gown”.  Then the mammogram.

Once you have your mammogram you sit out in the waiting room watching I Love Lucy reruns with all the other women wearing  contraption gowns waiting for results or for their initial scan.

If your mammogram is good, you get to go home after it’s reviewed and get celebratory drunk.  If it’s bad, or needs clarification you have to have another mammogram.  I had to go for another mammogram.

After my second mammogram was done I went back to the waiting room where it’s now all new women and me. And Mary Tyler Moore.  If the second mammogram shows inconclusive or suspicious results you have to go in for an ultrasound.  I had to go in for an ultrasound.

Did I mention you’re not allowed to wear deodorant when you get a mammogram because it can interfere with the results as well as your dignity?  So no deodorant during one of the most sweat inducing moments in your life.  I mean there’s cancer tests and pregnancy tests.  Those are the two sweatiest moments in life.

It didn’t really matter because I was so anxiety filled that all liquid producing pores or holes in my body completely shut themselves off.

15 minutes after my ultrasound and 1.5 hrs after I got to the hospital I was given the results.

I don’t have cancer.

I am however filled with cysts and need to be checked again in 3 months.  The ultrasound can see the density of things and whether they’re solid masses or fluid filled.  Mine were fluid filled and one is possibly infected which would explain the week long low grade fever.

Cysts are harmless.  But I do need to be checked again to make sure they’re shrinking.  Apparently they flare up then shrink.  There is no known cause for cysts.

I’m home celebrating by wearing sweat pants and eating cheese and crackers and the relief is just setting in.  I’m a huge advocate for mammograms.  I wrote a post on the fact that everyone should remember to go regularly for mammograms including everything you can expect to happen while you’re getting yours.

Yet I didn’t book my follow up.

One, two, three, four years went by and I didn’t get a mammogram.  Which is enough time for cancer to sneak up and attack you.  If you get a mammogram every 2 years they can catch it early enough that it’s completely treatable.  THAT’S REASON ENOUGH TO GET ONE.

Do you know anyone with terminal cancer?  Imagine if they could have taken a 10 minute test to prevent it.  And chose not to.

That’s what you’re doing when you choose to skip a mammogram.

I have something to tell you.  I think now’s a good time for you to book your next or first mammogram.

love karen

 
 

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308 Comments

  1. monica says:

    😳❤️⦿⦿🕘🕙🕚👌🎉

  2. Shelly says:

    Breathing a big sigh of relief for you. Scheduling my mammo first thing thing tomorrow.

  3. Cynthia says:

    Just an additional comment. Please don’t let anyone say, or believe, that “cancer doesn’t hurt”. I was diagnosed 15 years ago with Inflammatory Breast Cancer, which causes rapid, incredibly painful swelling in the affected breast. It is frequently misdiagnosed as mastitis (an infection).

    I’m so so so very happy to hear that you are simply a cysty! Please continue to monitor, and thank you for sharing your experience in the hopes of educating others. Knowledge is power.

  4. Sue says:

    I cannot imagine your levels of fear and tension. Just reading your post made me feel tense and fearful. The photo of you in weary relief at the end is gorgeous. Instructing stock broker to buy stock in potato chip company pronto.

  5. Phylicia says:

    So happy for you!

  6. Audra Caton says:

    I have breast cysts as well. I’ve never had a flare up, but I can just imagine the scare you went through. Thank God you are ok and everything checked out.
    Oh and BTW, I’m scheduling my mammogram tomorrow morning.

    Hugs
    Audra

  7. Michelle Vaughan says:

    So happy for your good outcome. My mammogram is scheduled for March 26. Thanks for sharing your story.

  8. Ohmygod, I read this feverishly, having just heard that a friend recently went through the exact same lump in boob drill. So glad you’re good! And thank you for posting the pro-mammogram pitch. It’s so easy, painless and quick!
    My friend’s results weren’t great. But she’s fighting it.
    Effing cancer 🤬

    • Meg says:

      Note: mammograms are NOT PAINLESS if you go at the wrong time of the month. I have had great/painless mammos and *TOTALLY AWFUL I WANT TO KILL THE TECH* mammos.

      SCHEDULE IT AROUND YOUR CYCLE LADIES!

      Also, Eff cancer, I hope your friend fights it like a champ.

  9. Kelly says:

    Amen Karen!! Thank you for sharing….. mammograms are a wonderful tool. Please ladies, get yours as often as allowable by your medical coverages.

    Also, PAP smears and be sure to have the dr. do a ‘thin prep’ slide to check for HPV.

    Early detection is the best way to beat the crap out of that nasty six letter word; cancer.

    Thank you, again, Karen!! Thank God you are in the clear! Big hugs and sighs of sheer relief!!

    Kelly~~

  10. Deep Breath! Great to hear!

  11. Nicole says:

    As you say, a mammogram can find it early enough to halt the cancer – my very first mammogram (at 40) was the one that found the abnormal cells. I have five little tattoos that they used to line up the radiation and I’m way prouder of them than I would have been had I ever got up the nerve for that tribal tattoo I wanted when I was in my 20s. 🙂

    • Nicole says:

      My name is also Nicole and I just finished my breast cancer treatments a month ago. I’m also proud of my dot tattoos. We’re part of a different tribe.

      So thrilled for you Karen. It’s like winning a million dollars, isn’t it. Thank you for sharing this with us and getting other women to go for their mammograms. I go to mine every two years and that is what saved my life. It was caught in time.

  12. Im_UrAlly says:

    it’s never the same. My BFF went for her routine exams in April and got the all clear. She found out in May that she was losing her job, so she decided to get a full physical before her benefits were transferred to COBRA plan in August. In August she found out she had stage four Breast Cancer. …. …. she has three young sons … 9, 6, 2 … A husband that doesn’t work and isn’t around that much (longer story), and would be hunting for a job while going through Chemo. …. Years have passed … reconstruction failed … she couldn’t heal the skin … she’s in a trail now … more years have passed. … she is living each day as fully as possible … no new job yet but she keeps interviewing. …. the kids have special counseling to deal with all this .. spouse is more (a little) around and is doing great with not being pulled away by (another story) family members insisting they need more help than his wife or kids …. 12, 9, 5 … she believes in being confident … It’s more than a scare, and it’s not just because you forgot to get a mammogram on time.

  13. Laura Bee says:

    Immediate tightness in my chest at those two words. My Nana was in her 30s in the 1960s when she lost a breast to Cancer. I am 45, thinking it is time I had my 1st mammogram.
    I am so happy for your good news. About the husband. . . my spouse of 20 years moved out last Oct. so if need be, I will take my sister or my best friend. My mom and aunt always go together.

  14. Patricia Jaroslawski says:

    I am very glad that your results were good 🙂

  15. Sarah says:

    What Monica said ! Phew ! I think I held my breath for the whole of that post. Thank goodness.

    Also after 50, you should do a simple stool test every 2 years for colo-rectal cancer. A friend is suffering after ignoring symptoms and leaving it too late… and 9 out of 10 can be cured if treated early.

    • Lisa says:

      Do you get sent a Happy 50th Birthday card by the Government – giving you a free stool test to check for bowel cancer (it comes every year after you turn 50). Weird feeling to get that just before you turn 50. A bit of an EEK! 🙂

      We also get a reminder to have breast checks and pap smears (really don’t want the government knowing I’m due for those, but glad they do it – it’s because they are charged through Medicare and bulk-billed – so they send reminders out).

      • Ann Brookens says:

        So…the government-sent medical reminders: is that a Canadian thing? I could certainly use that, here in the US!

  16. Mike says:

    Great news! Congrats!!!

  17. marli says:

    Ugh. Been there with the cervix (now removed) and yet I’ve not been well enough to make the damn mammogram appointment. Dr. is less than thrilled with me, and now you’ve set a large reminder in my email. I suppose I should just do it and get a ride if necessary.
    Thank you for the nudge. And I’m over the moon happy for you!
    Smiles, marli

  18. Stacy P. says:

    Oh Karen! I’m so pleased that you don’t have cancer. Cancer sucks!

  19. Debbieo says:

    So glad it turned out this way and so sorry you had to go through it alone. You have a bigger team of supporters than you can ever know!

    • Karen, that is so true! Debbieo, thank you so much for putting that into words. There are so many people around the world who are with you in spirit, Karen, who love what you do and would love to be there in person for you too. I hope you can feel that <3 xxx

  20. Cathy says:

    Oh, God, Karen. I was holding my breath through your whole story. So Glad you don’t have cancer. I’m lucky that my Women’s Center calls me every year to set up my appointment. I’m not responsible for remembering. My pap test on the other hand…🤔😞

  21. Lori Enos Jones says:

    Glad all is good!!!

  22. Ella says:

    So relieved for you.

    Thank you for reminding all of us to get a mammo. I am part of the Ontario Breast Screening Program because my mom had BC at 39 which she beat (only to have it come back 25 years later and end up killing her). I also did the BRCA genetic test to find out if I carry the BC gene. (I do not.) As part of the program, I get a mammo annually. Every year without fail. And I am grateful to get it!

  23. Laura Weinberg says:

    I don’t think I breathed the whole time I was reading that! I’m so happy you don’t have cancer!

    I’m a breast cancer survivor. I was diagnosed in January 2016, with stage 2. It was my first mammogram. Stupid to wait that long, but I have zero breast cancer in my family, so didn’t realize I was in danger. Turns out I have the BRCA1 mutation, so had an 87% chance of getting the disease! And my cancer was so aggressive, if I’d waited another 4 months for that first mammogram, I would have had a very different prognosis.

    So yes, please don’t skip mammograms. A lot can happen in the time between them.

  24. Suel says:

    Hey Karen,
    I’m a guy who was scared stiff when a mole on my back, about the size of a pencil eraser, was malignant. If I heard it once, I heard it 3 times, “I’ve never seen a melanoma like this before.” Primary physician, dermatologist, oncology surgeon. “We need another biopsy”, “we need to see if this has originated from somewhere else.” Rush here, rush there, PET Scan, surgery, sentinel lymph node biopsy, wait, wait, and wait some more. That was 6 years ago, I’m still in the clear. I’m so glad to hear your news and I want to thank you for sharing that ordeal. Yours was different, but in a way they’re the same. Love to you sister, we’re here for you.

  25. Angie4 says:

    You are my hero!
    For this reminder and all your projects!
    It’s too late to call for an appointment tonight but I will in the am.

  26. Mark says:

    Very glad you had good news!

    Men can get breast cancer too. The father of my best friend from grade school died from it.

    • Terri says:

      Thank you for the mention on men and breast cancer! Although it’s rare (less than 1%), I’d hope that any man who stopped reading this, reconsidered and gained more knowledge that might help him or a male friend be proactive.

  27. Charisaa says:

    Aww u poor girl. I read the title and first couple of sentences, then skipped to the end, then read the rest as i couldn’t handle it. You are so brave and generous to share this. What a gift to all of of us. THANK YOU AND THANK GOODNESS YOU ARE WELL.

    • Bonnie Harris says:

      Just like Charisaa, had to scroll down after the first couple of paragraphs. If only we could ‘scroll down’ in real life and know the answer to our life and death questions right away! So relieved for you, Karen.

  28. Keelea LeJeune says:

    I’m so sorry you had to go through that scare and am so glad to hear your results. Years ago I went through the same thing. Same cysts. My doc asked if I drank Diet Coke. I did. All the time. She suggested I stop. I went cold turkey and haven’t been cysty since—no more lumps. Not sure if you’re a diet soda drinker, but it could be contributing to your boob prob. Either way, WHEW!

    • Katie says:

      I had the very same experience! I lost my best friend to breast cancer, and discovered a large lump three months after she died. Turned out to be a cyst, but the radiologist told me to stop drinking Diet Coke in no uncertain terms.

      Done.

  29. Angie Pearce says:

    Oh, thank God. I’m so glad you’re okay. I had almost the exact same thing happen to me. Get a mammo regularly and religiously, girls! It is absolutely worth it.

  30. Edith says:

    Hi Karen,
    You had me so scared……I’m happy you’re ok!

    F’ing cancer!

  31. blue tang says:

    God bless, dear karen.

  32. Susan Sidell says:

    Whew! Sigh of relief for my “cyst-tah” and appreciate your sharing!

  33. Dawn Marie says:

    Thank you for sharing your experience. I had a lump found last year during the other exam we women do not enjoy. Only my husband knew, and it was not easy having to tell him. My parents were having to deal with my Dad’s health issues and I didn’t want to add to their worry over him. It turned out to be a cyst, thankfully. Last month I had a 6-month followup. No change. Don’t have to have another one for a year.
    I had put this off forever. Cancer doesn’t run in my family, I’ve got too much other stuff going on, etc., etc. I almost didn’t have the exam, to begin with, but something told me to. I was glad I did.

  34. Bethany Jones says:

    I’m not gonna lie…I had tears of relief at the end of your post. Fucking stupid awful cancer affects all of us, whether we have it or know someone and I’m so glad you don’t have it!

  35. Thank god it’s not cancer! You wrote this entry so well I was holding my breath until the end.

    Ladies, go get that mammogram today because f*ck cancer!

  36. susan says:

    (((Karen))) I can’t get the smile off my face! I’m so happy for you and relieved that you are okay. It is a terrible scare (had similar many years ago) and yes, a good kick in the butt to get on top of having mammograms done.

  37. Lesley says:

    Just burst into tears and scared the cat. I’m so glad you’re OK.

  38. Kim says:

    So happy for you, breathing a big sigh of relief.

  39. Maura says:

    So sorry to hear what you had to go through but happy of the ultimate result!

  40. Meg says:

    *oh noooo I started crying from the first two words*
    I am high-risk. Have a follow-up follow-up ultrasound next week. I’m terrified. Just looking at your photos I can see this exact terror – the utter dread of the whole thing. I am SO glad you don’t have cancer. What an absolutely gut-wrenching couple of weeks.

    Brave, brave Karen. Thank you for this post. I can’t tell you how relieved I am for you. And how much I appreciate hearing your experience. And how important it is to remind people to get their mammograms!

    love, meg

  41. Maureen says:

    So glad it’s not cancer! 🙂 I may have some cheese and crackers to celebrate on your behalf. And, yes, ladies: schedule your appointments if you haven’t already.
    PS – That bottom pic of you happy & relieved is so cute!

  42. Rod from Calgary says:

    Karen…really happy for you…really happy. My wife went through the same thing, had a couple of lumpectomies. Then along came the lump that wasn’t benign. It would not have been seen by a mammogram, but was seen in an ultrasound. It’s important for women at risk to have BOTH procedures. Eight and a half years later, after a lumpectomy (didn’t get it all) and a double mastectomy followed by reconstructive surgery, all is well. Thank goodness the ultrasound caught it early. Ladies…do the ultrasound!

  43. susan says:

    p.s. and now for the Ruffles and dip … 🙂

  44. Jane C. says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever held my breath for so long. So glad to hear your results. I just had my mammogram in January, I think, and it was negative. Always a relief to receive that letter. And you’re going to book your mammograms regularly now, aren’t you?

  45. Jeanne says:

    I am so very happy you don’t have cancer, so very, very happy. I went through the same scare a while back. Mine turned out okay as well. We need to keep getting screenings.

    Now on to seed planting….
    Jeanne

  46. Joanne says:

    I’ve only just become acquainted with you through your blog which I am enjoying.
    Happy it all turned out for you and I will rebook a cancelled mammogram tomorrow.
    Thanks for the reminder.

  47. Sachi says:

    Big, big hugs. *sigh*. Such a relief to know it isn’t cancer. <3 Sending you love.

  48. Tina says:

    OMG, I was holding my breath! I’m glad it’s not C.

    The end of November I was told by my doctor that something was wrong with my liver enzymes. I said they’re only high because I don’t have a gall bladder. He sent me to a specialist. After 3 months and thousands of $$$ in tests (thank you US health system) and the specialist having discussions with me about getting on a transplant list and having my brothers and kids tested and getting new living wills, etc, I got a call a couple of days ago saying “Oh, your liver is fine! The numbers are elevated because you don’t have a gall bladder!” Meanwhile I’ve been terrified for months. I vacillate between being relieved that I’m OK and being outrageously angry for the upset I’ve been put through.

    • Eileen says:

      THIS is why I stay out of doctor’s offices. As one recently said to someone I know after a clean bill of health: “the only reason we haven’t found anything wrong with you is because we haven’t looked long/hard enough.”

      • Tina says:

        Thank you, Eileen! I have printed that out and posted it behind my computer. I won’t be anyone’s Guinea pig again!

  49. Kristina says:

    Oh my, I am SO GLAD for you. What an awful scare. XO

  50. Lisa says:

    So glad that you are ok…it’s the waiting….hate the waiting. Phew to turning out alright.
    I skip the mammogram and go straight to ultrasound. It’s annual for me because of “The Grape”. I have a grape in my left breast, been there for about 4 years, never changed, perfectly oval in shape. So, off to the ultrasound place every year – my breasts are too cysty and grumpy for a mammogram apparently (maybe they bite when squished). You’ve reminded me to book in again. Fortunately here in Australia we have mammograms and ultrasounds that are fully covered by Medicare and bulk-billed, so no cost to us. Stay healthy – we need your type to stay around a lot longer. PS: I think the grape is why I like my liquid grapes so much. 🙂

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