A few months ago, my husband John and I were laying around on the couch doing our typical weeknight lazy tv watching routine. I'm going to be honest here. I'm not entirely sure how it came to pass, but we'll just say that John "stumbled upon" my chest in what one might consider a very playful tickling match(?) The details to this day are a bit foggy, but suffice it to say that he mentioned he noticed something different in my breast, like a bump or a knot. Hmmm, now this was unusual.
Now for my ladies who are adamant like me about your regular self-breast exams, pap smears, and gyno visits, I know what you're thinking. There's no possible way that HE could find something irregular that I, myself or my doctors would have missed having only been to my doctor and for a physical and breast exam just 6 months prior. Well I'm here to tell you ladies: My man found a lump (yes a tiny lump) in my right breast. He found a pea sized marble in a matter of seconds with a simple boob grab and knew that something was off.
I'm only sharing this story now because I think it's time we got honest with ourselves about opening up with these issues. I've been holding this one quite literally close to my chest for a few months now. I know I shouldn't be ashamed. I just didn't know how to share. Not with friends or colleagues. It even took some time to open up to family. I think I was in shock initially.
After looking at John like he was crazy for a minute, I immediately stripped off my shirt and proceeded to feel around for this small knot he'd just discovered. Sure enough, something was amiss.
I made an appointment with an OB/GYN for the following Monday. By Tuesday, I was getting my first mammogram and Ultrasound at age 34. To say, I was terrified would be an understatement.
I had no idea what was going to happen. The whole experience was so traumatic for me. The waiting, the not knowing. In the Women's Imaging Center here at Wellstar Kennestone in Atlanta, I looked around at the women in their head scarves, pale and sick from chemo, women of all ages, sizes, colors, ethnicities and nationalities. And it hit me like a ton of bricks. My eyes welled up like a little girl. I needed my Mama.
Cancer does not discriminate. And it would not hold back for me either if it saw fit.
My imaging would not be enough to determine that day exactly what was going on without a biopsy, so several weeks and several appointments later, and this time with my Mama in tow, I had a topical biopsy via syringe of this tiny foreign mass that had decided to host itself inside my body.
A week later and almost two months from the date of discovery, we found out that it was simply a benign mass called a fibroadenoma. They are common. They cannot cause cancer. They cannot turn into cancer. They can however fluctuate in size based on stress and hormones. I won't go into the full details, but you can learn more about them here.
I don't want to be a cliché but this event in my life was a bit of a wakeup call for me. I've always had a deep and endearing respect for cancer patients and survivors, but until you've had up close experience with any part of the process, it's hard to truly know what it could feel like to have a close brush with it. My deep rooted appreciation for those who endure the emotional struggles that come with the medical diagnosis of this disease either to one' self or one's family member is unparalleled. I am constantly in awe of your complete and utter courage.
And I know that I need to love and take care of myself more. I need to pay attention to the ingredients I put in my body and the environments in which I surround myself. Words and people are just as toxic as bad food and chemicals. (Insert praise hand emoji's here. Where are my emoji's when I need them?)
It's no surprise to me that this year has been a year of incredible transition for my husband and I as a family but also for our health. Since arriving to Atlanta, I have experienced one health concern after the next, this being the most intrusive and scariest.
With October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I would just like to formally invite anyone who reads this post to be exceptionally motivated to encourage your loved ones to check themselves if they have any cancer concerns at all. Prevention is key.
Thanks for reading my story and joining this new journey with me. Hoping this can be a new place to share. Hoping to hear your stories too!
Looking forward to all of it.
Georgia's Newest Peach,