I remember back in 2012, I lied on my back and carelessly thought let me do a self examination on my breast. To start I put my left hand under my head than took my right hand using the pads of my fingertips I slowly used small circular movements from my nipple to the top of my breast. Working my way around the entire breast including under the armpit. Once done I moved over to the right breast same technique. This time once I got to the top of my breast I felt a different texture, a lump giving way everytime I pressed on it. Scared shitless I tried to stay calm and continued the whole routine. My husband came home the afternoon from work, I asked him to feel…. and he confirmed my fears. Not wanting to jump to conclusions and driving myself crazy I made an appointment to see our family Dr the next day.
At this time we were staying in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. I saw the Dr and he referred me to a get a breast ultrasound. Whenever I have these done I try not to look at the screen. The radiologist keeps on measuring and capturing images of my breast. It is scary to lie there and not know what to expect. Two days later I got a call to come back for my results with my GP. I always take my husband, mother or friend along to these appointments. Overactive thoughts, anxiety and stress makes me not pay attention to all the necessary details the Dr will share, having a support helps. Purely because my husband will listen and understand everything more clearly and than can tell me any information that I missed.
Sitting in in the waiting room is excruciating. 50% chance of good or bad news. We saw the Dr, eyes wide open we follow every word he said. YES, You have a breast lump, although not where I thought it was. It was on the left side close to my armpit. BUT it is a BENIGN BREAST TUMOR. It is large enough to cause concern so the best option would be to remove it. Than send it away to the lab for further analysis.
We left the Dr office, relieved, overwhelmed and me in tears. A couple of months later I returned back to my home country Botswana and Graham remained for work. I saw a breast specialist in Gaborone. He confirmed. A few day later I went in for surgery. He said it is a small operation that will take about 30 minutes and we can do it in his clinic. My husband surprised my me by flying over to be by my side. Him sitting in the waiting room, I followed the nurse into the surgery to be prepared. The Dr did an ultrasound again to locate the exact location of the lump, than gave me a local anaesthetic. I looked at the clock when he started to cut, I didn’t feel any pain but I could feel my blood running down my back, closed my eyes than went to my happy place in my mind. An hour later, lump free and and ready to go home.
This was my first time under the knife. I was lucky that it was a benign tomor, but I am also lucky that I did my routine self examination and we could sort it out within time.
Fast so forward to 2015. Before we started my IVF, us in Hong Kong I went in to make sure my body is prepared and everything medically taken care of before I fall pregnant. I saw a breast specialist here, he did an ultrasound and he found seven lumps in both breast. All benign fibroadenoma. One of them big enough and could grow during pregnancy so he advised we need to remove it. This time same breast and almost same area. He even used the same scare from previous operation to remove the lump. I was so concerned about this on going dilemma that I ask the Dr how do I prevent this. If we remove one lump there will still be six remaining. Honestly I will not have any breast left at the rate I’m going at. How am I going to feed my future children. His solution was simple enough get PREGNANT OR GO INTO MENOPAUSE. Both these two conditions, your period is absent. No periods means no fluctuating hormones that can lead to lumps. Fibroadenomas usually develop in the normal breast from the lobules, which are the glands responsible for milk production. The surrounding tissue and breast ducts grow over the lobule creating a benign breast tumour or lump.
My Grandmother had breast cancer, and a close friend had a mastectomy a couple of years ago, this is probably why I am always making sure I am safe. Sometimes we think this will not happen to me, but it can. Each of us know someone close who have batted this horrible disease. Don’t just wait for October breast cancer awareness month, every day is an awareness day. Take action into your own hands to prevent or to catch anything of concern early.
One year post twin pregnancy I went in for a follow up breast scan, and true to my Dr word not a single lump. Eight months of stable hormones got rid of all the remaining lumps. This does not mean I just stop to check and make sure everything. I will continue my check ups every year.
PLEASE KEEP IN MIND:
1) Check your breast by yourself regularly
2) If anything suspicious see your Dr immediately
3) Take a spouse or friend to your appointment
4) Encourage family and friends to check themselves
5) Avoid thinking this can not affect you because of your age, race, religion.
6) Have a breast scan done annually