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.

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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311 Comments

  1. Maggie vansickle says:

    So very happy your results were positive and good for you sharing your experience .

  2. shoshana leeder says:

    Best news ever!!!!Thank God

  3. angela eaton says:

    I love your smile of relief at the end:) I am so happy for you…thank you for sharing with such grace and humour – it was a great way to begin my Friday. I had exactly the same experience – every single step, and also waiting alone:) It makes one very grateful given the odds of the alternative. Have a beautiful Friday !!

  4. Sara says:

    So relieved for the happy ending for you, my Internet “friend” who I’ve never actually met but love dearly (not in a creepy stalker way, just in the “hey, I love the way this woman thinks, she’s hilarious & if we lived next door to each other I could definitely see us Lucy & Ethel the hell out of some shit” way)
    I’ve gone through that very thing with a happy ending too
    MUCH LOVE & BIG HUGS

  5. Jeanne says:

    Dear Karen,
    Tears are streaming down my face. So very happy and relieved for you. It’s been 18 months since my mammogram. I’ll call today. Thank you. ❤️

  6. Emma says:

    Relief & many many virtual hugs going out to you Karen! I am thankful for you and this psa about taking care of yourself. My mammo came back with something last year. Ultrasounds x2 and 6 month follow-ups plus regular GP checks…so far ✔ so good..
    The first ultrasound I had gone alone. Not a good idea. The news was good, but walking down hospital corridor to leave I must have looked white as a sheet & almost started bawling with relief…took a friend the 2nd time. ❤

  7. Vanessa says:

    The stress of just reading about this was tough. I am thrilled you are okay. My mother went into the ER this past weekend with double vision and as her sister died of a brain tumour we were all sick with worry. Thankfully she just has messed up eyes – but I feel your pain. Since it is Friday I will toast to your continued health along with my Mums tonight with a BIG glass of vodka 🙂

  8. Roxanne Scott says:

    My mammogram found cancer! Then on to MRI. Mastectomy.
    All in a month’s time, which as you say felt like 12 years. Totally worth the annoying mammogram to still be here fighting!

  9. Jenny W says:

    I can not express how happy I am that everything is ok with your boobs! What I can say is that I can relate to how you were feeling, as I went through the same thing a few years ago. I had just turned 40 and was booked for my first mammogram. My husband actually was the one to notice the lump, go figure.
    1, then the 2nd mamo, then the ultrasound – but a weeks wait between each procedure, so a lot of stress waiting and eating and drinking.
    Fluid filled cyst – happiest words ever.
    I continue get a mammogram every 2 years, because my life is worth a few minutes of uncomfortable boob squeezes.
    In the words of Nike – Just Do It!

  10. Miz B says:

    After my first “lump” scare, I made s will. Fixed all my jewelry in envelopes for each child. Did major clean up. Thankfully not cancer! I was a life changing experience! Our daughter has these same fluid filled cysts. She has a huge number of cysts and bravely has the fluid drained via a needle prior to her mammograms.
    Stay strong….

  11. Eileen Azzinaro says:

    Thank God, and I do mean that, thank God you are ok. I have regular mammography exams, have had minor surgery on one breast and am absolutely diligent about checkups. The technicians are the most fabulous women; so much so that I have contacted the head of the department twice to compliment them on their compassion. They walk you out arm in arm, comforting and knowing the trauma that their patients go through. I can’t say enough good things about these nurses/technicians.

    I get a skin check annually with my dermatologist and because I was in the hospital late last year because of a sinus infection, I missed the appointment. This year she found a “cyst” that wasn’t there before. She said it was probably benign, but I said, “out, damn spot” and she removed it. She was right but I wasn’t prepared to have that abnormality on my back, not knowing and since it wasn’t there the previous year, it had no business being on my body. I’m not waiting until I look like the Hunchback of Notre Dame before I did anything. Bottom line, be proactive!!

    I recommend going to a dermatologist annually so they have a record and can monitor changes..

  12. Karen’s favorite reader (Jenni) says:

    I’m still pissed that my beautiful, stubborn mother died from breast cancer 6 years ago. “Ma, you need a mammogram”, I said on multiple occasions. She responded with, “Oh I took care of that.” I knew she’d have bitched her head off for two straight days about the ordeal IF she had really completed the deed. Yet she stood by her hilarious story. I pressed…she danced around the issue. Real mature. A couple years later she called and said three words: A big lump

    Then I drove her to the appointment. The building was sterile and not beautiful. I thumbed through a germ infested magazine of which I do not recall the article and blankly glimpsed at a shot of Good Morning America as my stomach lurched d in terror. The people in white labcoats took us into a room and told us “It’s cancer and we need to find out where else.”

    Tests, tests, tests. End result from the labcoats: “It is everywhere.”

    Damn. Ma said, “I lied.” I thought No Shit! But instead replied, “I always knew you did. Let’s do this.” We fought it head on for 3 years. She lost the battle in January 2013. Did I mention I’m still pissed?

    Karen I’m so thrilled you shared your story. Even more thrilled you don’t have to say the C-word and know all the hell it brings.

    Get your mammograms ladies and don’t fuck around. Karen is right. I get mine like clockwork. I don’t believe in shoulding on people but just make the damn call.

    -Jenni from Peoria, IL

    PS. Peoria? Fun fact: Peoria is the birthplace of Suzie G. Komen where The Race for the Cure was founded. All because her sister was so devastated by her death from breast cancer that she formed the largest, most successful race in the world to fight cancer and raise funds for research. Many of the founding members are still living in this area. I visited her grave (now a national landmark) after my mother passed. I wanted to say thank you for the additional 2 years Ma lived directly correlated to the funding and research for new treatments. All because of The Race.

    We know breast cancer in Peoria. We also know baselines and preventative screenings are 100% covered if there is a lack of diagnostic symptoms. That is backed by Federal law (ACA). No charge. No deductible. Make the call. ❤️ Your daughters will be glad you did.

  13. Sabina says:

    Thank you for sharing your experience with us Karen, we often forget to take care of ourselves because we’re so busy taking care of others. Make that appointment ladies, buddy up with a friend and start a new ritual, go together then go for drinks, save the ta-tas!

  14. Jacquie says:

    I’m a cysty breast woman too. Suddenly a lump will appear seemingly overnight then disappear again a few days/weeks later. Still concerning but you kind of get used to what they feel like so I don’t have a scan every time now but I would if one ever felt different.

    I’ll never forget the first time I found one though; incredibly scary although I booked a scan for the same day so at least the agony wasn’t prolonged. Ladies, please check yourself with your fingers held together and flat, not with your fingertips, both whilst you’re lying down and standing up and don’t forget the armpit area.

    So happy everything worked out ok for you Karen.

  15. Nick Studdard says:

    So glad to find you are ok. I actually dreaded to read the post.
    Nick

  16. Chris says:

    Congrats on the good news!! I bet you don’t miss your next one!! I try to do it around my birthday, so I can celebrate my birthday with the relief of having the rest of the year with one less thing to worry about.
    I also now do it close to my birthday as a remembrance of one of my besties. Our birthdays were coincidentally a week apart—so we always did a shared celebration each year. However Diane had a painless lump that was found on routine mammogram. With her family history of breast cancer a lumpectomy was done (1 sister/survivor, and their mother/deceased from cancer). As it turned out, it was cancer, but they thought they got it all. Somehow it then changed, became ‘inflammatory breast cancer’ (the worst kind!!), and it came back with a vengeance like I have never seen in my nursing career. I was by her side keeping my promise to her, when she died about 1 yr later.
    We both had our annual mam’s. We both were sticklers about it. When I have another one each year, it will be for both of us.
    Ladies—in addition to your annual mam—be sure and check yourself every month at home too!! Cancer waits for no one. Not all outcomes are good, but the earlier detection the better chance of beating it!!

  17. Clare B says:

    Thanks for sharing this – the exact thing happened to me last January – the fear, the waiting, the googling, the resolution to find a husband. No I love Lucy – I had to sit through farming programmes (I live in Wales). Good news for me too – I was told I ‘just have lumpy breasts’, which was a huge relief (I literally skipped out of the hospital, once I was out of sight of the other women waiting who might not have had such good news). I’m so pleased you (only) have cysts, I’m so pleased we have mammograms. And long live the NHS!!!

  18. So happy to hear the good news Karen. And thank you for raising awareness. Women’s College in Toronto is also a wonderful facility. I go there regularly as I have a family history with breast cancer. xoxo

  19. Clem says:

    Takes lots of care, Karen. I love ruffles too. Don’t eat TOO many ruffles! God bless.

  20. Renee says:

    Whew…you’re ok, thank god! My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 52 with her first routine mammogram. Had a lumpectomy/radiation was fine until a few years ago when she was diagnosed with a particular virulent type of BC at age 81. She had a mastectomy, recovered very well and is doing fine, living life. Goes dancing with my father almost every weekend! My sister was diagnosed having BC at age 47 with her annual routine mammogram. She had a lumpectomy and is doing fine, as well. I have rarely skipped my annual mammogram. However, I’m past time for my colonoscopy (ugh) and will be calling the doctor tomorrow…thanks for this post!

  21. Nina Bredell says:

    Hi Karen !!
    So glad you’re ok – stay safe ❤️
    Love
    / nina in sweden

  22. marian heelan says:

    So, so glad… been there, brings it all back – fear, worry…relief.
    Sending you lots of love and thinking of all those who weren’t as lucky as us xx

  23. Louise Nina Knight says:

    Well you had me crying at the end of that….I cant begin to imagine how you must feel..but am so very glad for you.<3

  24. Oh my goodness…that was intense. I actually got teary when I saw your smiling face at the end. Sorry, you had to go through all of that. xo

  25. Angie says:

    It’s a little after midnight in Alberta and I’m awake because I’m having left shoulder/arm pain-not a heart attack, an injury-and I got the new post email. I don’t mind telling you that the title made my blood run cold. I wanted so desperately to skip to the bottom to see what your results were but I felt I had to go along with you even though I’m some stranger half a country away.

    I’m so glad you’re okay.

    Remember people, your doctor has seen it all. Just because you’re embarrassed by some weird genitourinary or gastrointestinal thing doesn’t mean your doctor will be or that you shouldn’t talk about it.

  26. Addie says:

    Yay!!! Been there done that and it is very scary!!! Mine was a lipoma.
    Be sure to go back for your follow-ups!!! ~~~Celebrate ~~~

  27. Bev Rommens says:

    Yes get those tests done – be it mammogram or any other (bowel etc). My husband never went to the Doctor unless dragged there kicking and screaming “I’m just fine.” But one day he went by himself because he had a hemorrhoid that didn’t go away. It turned out to be a stage 3 anal cancer… just starting chemo and radiotherapy. Thanks 💕

  28. I have to be honest, I scrolled to the end quickly out of worry.

    Love you

  29. Whoa! That was a scary ride.. Glad for the happy ending..
    I for , at least, was one male who. read thru.. Didn’t want harm to befall my new friend..
    Hang in there friend..

  30. janie says:

    I could hardly breathe while reading this post. Thank the dear Lord you are OK. I agree with you…as much as I don’t enjoy it…it is so important to get a mammogram. In fact I just made my yearly appointment yesterday.
    You mentioned not wearing deodorant … that was the cause of my breast pain. A few years ago I started making my own using coconut oil as a base with some arrow root, a little baking soda and essential oil for scent. It works great and no more pain. There are lots of recipes online if you’re interested in trying it. It will save lots of $ too so you can buy more cheese and crackers. xo

  31. Lin N says:

    Very good news…..what an anxiety post you wrote! Had me holding my breath. Had ‘tit squish’ a couple of months ago. Going to the Dr. tomorrow to have a wee lump in my armpit examine. Been there for awhile not changing but on occassion disappearing. Not too concerned at this point. Good on your for acting fairly (3 days😊) quickly.

  32. Wendi says:

    I read an earlier comment where the poster said she had tears of relief for you after reading your blog. Don’t get me wrong: I am VERY relieved that you don’t have cancer. But I’m crying for a different reason. I’m crying because your story is pretty much my story, too. Except I had cancer. It’s been a couple of years since I had a PTSD flashback about it, but yeah, the whole thing was pretty sucky. I did get two good things out of it though.

    #1. A few days before I started radiation, my daughters and I went and got matching tattoos. They wanted them in my handwriting, in case…you know. I absolutely LOVE that tattoo, and;

    #2. I got to continue living.

    For anyone going through treatment now, this is your chance to keep living. I know it’s hard to remember that when you’re sick and burnt and depressed from treatment, but it’s the truth 🙂

  33. TucsonPatty says:

    Karen, I am so happy and relieved this incident turned out well for you! That seems to be a rule of some twisted sort – to get a test or biopsy done so you have to wait over the weekend for results! I had my heart in my mouth and a hurting stomach till I got to the end of your story.
    Karen, you do so much for all of us, and I hope you know how much we – I – truly love all you do for us. Now, on top of all else you do, you have added public service announcements to your list! Blood and platelet drives, and mammograms, and colonoscopies.
    Thank you, from a 12 year survivor of stage 1 breast cancer with a lumpectomy then chemotherapy and radiation. Please get your mammograms, ladies, and then remind your male partner/friend/SO that they need to check , also. My GGGrandfather died from breast cancer. My first breast doctor said “How do you know that?” I answered “Because that is the cause of death listed on his French death certificate.” I fired that guy and found the most amazing surgeon.
    Folks -it is no joke. If caught early – it is usually very easily (?!) treatable. Not fun, just simpler. There are amazing women out there – to help you through anything!
    Get your butts to the doctor, also! (Channeling Katie Couric)

  34. The picture of you after you got your results is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.
    So happy for you right now.

  35. Grammy says:

    Beautiful post, and the most beautiful picture of you at the end! I am another who held my breath throughout the whole thing. I think we all know the fear that lasted over so many days for you. Please consider all of our comments as a big group hug for you and your good news.

    You may have saved a life today by bringing the importance of checkups to your readers.

  36. Alia says:

    💗💗💗
    So sorry you had to go through all that scariness. And so very glad you’re ok.

  37. Elaine says:

    Huge congratulations to you, Karen! That last photo of you says it all … relief and happiness in one big grin!

    Like the other readers, I swear I held my breath throughout your post! I know all about the horrible mind-numbing fear, the waiting, the tests, etc, etc. My late husband had cancer. The first bout was stage 2 and treatable; the other was incurable and I have had some scary challenges too. When you get good news, suddenly the sky is bluer, even the bare trees of Winter look beautiful. Thank you for reminding us to get tested. I usually had a yearly mammogram and, in fact, asked for one last month but was told due to my age now (just turned 80), I don’t need one!

  38. Denise says:

    So very happy to hear you don’t have cancer!!

  39. Suzanne says:

    Thank G-d! I was ready to book a flight to be with you or to haul you down to Texas for whatever you needed. Healing vibes all around!

  40. Sam says:

    Well, not all the men closed out, Karen.

    Thank you so much for sharing this. Breast cancer has touched my family, as well as too many others, and stories such as yours can mean so much.

    Thank you. Better days are ahead.

  41. Ca thy Carlson says:

    Whew…exhale. Happy for you. ♡ I am 50 and will call and schedule my 1st mammogram tomorrow. ♡

  42. Janet L Fisher says:

    Karen – I am so glad you do not have cancer. Really glad!

    I was not as lucky as you, but I am doing okay. After the cutting I had 34 straight days of radiation. Every day for 34 days! I am so grateful there are better ways now days to help when you are told you have cancer, but it still sucks. I am just glad I am alive.

    Mamograms are important!

  43. Jackie says:

    Super great news. I’m happy for you. I went through the whole thing too a year ago, plus a lumpectomy, and am happy and lucky to be healthy too for now! But I’m keeping a close eye on these boobs!

  44. Julie Anne says:

    Those two words had me racing to the end of this for your results. Sending hugs and thoughts.

    Thank you for writing this in the midst of your fears. It may be the nudge that gets someone or her sister or friend in for their mammogram.

  45. Gary says:

    Reading your blog, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. So glad to hear your results came back negative. I’m going to make an appointment for my wife first thing in the morning. She keeps putting it off too. Thank you for sharing 😘👍

  46. Anna Kramer says:

    Oh my, what a rollercoaster ride for you to have gone through! You wrote this so eloquently too! You’re a tough cookie! Survivor not a victim. I also had this kind of experience 2 years ago. Whew, like you, it’s all good…we are all very happy to hear your happy ending. Thank you for sharing with us gals!!!

  47. MrsChrisSA says:

    I so wanted to cheat and go to the end of the post to check the final result.
    But I did not
    I read the whole damn thing filled with absolute terror and angst
    And now I am singing halleluja.

    I promise I will go for mine soon – I skipped last year. I am supposed to go every year. I have dense boobies so always have to go for a scan afterwards in any case – I had a papiloma removed from my right boob when I was 24. So, I should know this drill!
    I am over the moon happy that you are ok!!

    • Jacquie says:

      I’m 53 and have never had a mammogram because my tissue is so dense that only scans are suitable apparently. After reading Karen’s story, I’ll be making a slightly overdue appointment today.

  48. Debbie D says:

    Whooo Hoooooo! Congrats! So happy for you.

    I found my first lump when I was 25 years old. Cysts. Have had a mamo every year since then (and I am now old). I call it my annual boob squishing! BTW, the cysts went away when they thought I had uterine cancer and did a total hysterectomy when I was 28 years old. No cancer and no more boob cysts! But, I still get my annual boob squishing every year!

  49. J says:

    Thank goodness! Very happy to read this.

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