“It’s probably nothing,” I told myself. I’m only 33 years old. I’m healthy. I eat right, I exercise. Perhaps I overindulge in my wine and chocolate at times but who doesn’t?
When I found the little guy I was on vacation. For some reason (God only knows what I was doing) I came across a pea-sized lump in my armpit. Hmm…. that wasn’t there before. I gave it a couple days, checked again… still there. I waited a week. I waited two weeks. Still there. Look, I’m a nurse. I know what to look for regarding cancer (anyone remember CAUTION* from nursing school?!). But even though the majority of factors that play into what makes a malignant vs. a benign lump were heavily in my favor, I still couldn’t brush it off.
Women in my family have had breast cancer. Women in my family have survived breast cancer. But without early detection, diagnosis, and treatment they may not have made it to the other side. I could hear my Mom’s voice in my head, “Don’t mess around with this, you go to the doctor right away and have it checked.” Mom is always right!
I recently also met a woman (now a friend) who was diagnosed in her 30’s with metastatic breast cancer. It’s a very aggressive form of cancer that spreads to other parts of your body. By the time you even know you have it the cancer has spread and may be too aggressive to treat. It is deadly. It is scary. It happens. And it doesn’t care how old you are or that you have kids, family, friends, etc.
SO, sufficiently worried, I call my doctor on a Friday afternoon before a holiday weekend… dummy. I tell them what’s going on and they get me in first thing Tuesday morning. What?! Oh thank God I don’t have to wait like a week or two to figure this out! So I go through the weekend having a grand time watching fireworks, watching the boys run around with their friends and cousins, forgetting about my upcoming appointment… it will all get sorted out on Tuesday.
Tuesday morning comes and I see my gynecologist. She does a full history, breast exam, takes her time to talk to me about what this could be, then tells me she wants me to have a mammogram and an ultrasound. I was excited! I’ll have definitive answers as to what this will be. No watching, waiting, and “we’ll see” but real answers I can take home. She calls over to radiology, tells them what I need done, and they get me in the same afternoon. At 3pm I show up for my procedures. I request a 3D mammogram (the friend mentioned previous insisted this is what I always request). I am zipped back to a changing room. I wipe my armpits with the thing, put on my cute little shirt-gown, and head to the waiting area. Within 5 minutes they call me back for my mammogram. The woman doing the procedure again asks for my family history. She walks me through this awkward procedure. Explains there will be pressure. Explains how the rest of the day will go. I am at ease, especially for someone about to show their boobies to a complete stranger.
After the mammogram they take me to ultrasound. The tech does the job then leaves to get the Radiologist. She returns within 10 minutes with the Radiologist to go over both the mammogram and ultrasound to finally tell me everything looks normal. The lump was an inflamed lymph node… perhaps I was getting sick or was recovering from something (low and behold I developed a fever last night). This is something not to be concerned of, give it four weeks and call if it is still there. Otherwise, they have a good baseline for my next mammogram and into the future.
My initial reaction, after wanting to hug her, was to apologize for wasting everyone’s time. I mean, people who are more seriously ill are here for way more serious things. I can’t believe I just came in for a lymph node! But what if that lymph node WAS something else? What if it WAS cancer, I caught it early, and I could treat it now?! I wouldn’t apologize for that right?! So I say my thank you’s, change back into my street clothes, go pick up my kids, and thank God for my good health.
Never take a lump too lightly. Never take life for granted. Never feel dumb for asking questions. Never see a physician that doesn’t take your concerns seriously. Never be embarrassed when it comes to your health and your body.
Thank you Dr. Evans for not taking my concerns lightly. For allowing me to express my worries and have them heard. Thank you for doing everything possible to determine the status of my health within 24 hours. Myself, my husband, my kids, my friends, and my entire family thank you. It was such a little thing but that lump, to me, might as well have been the size of a grapefruit.
All the best,
Elite Fitness Trainer, Nutritionist, Registered Nurse
Goal Fitness & Nutrition
Bride. Baby. Body.
*7 Warning Signs of Cancer
C – Change in your bowel habits
A – A sore or cut that does not heal
U – Unusual bleeding or discharge
T -Thickening or lump in the breast or anywhere else in the body
I – Indigestion or difficulty swallowing
O – Obvious change in a mole or wart
N – Nagging Cough or Hoarseness