There’s a lump in my breast. There’s a lump. in. my. breast.

This is a thought that has been plaguing my mind for the last few weeks. I wanted to schedule my appointment to see my GYN as soon as I got back from the Type-A Parent Conference in Atlanta, but circumstances conspired to keep this from happening. But I finally called last week two weeks ago after bursting into tears and telling my husband about it, and my appointment was this morning last Thursday.

Let me tell you how much it sucks to see all of the Breast Cancer Awareness Month stuff decorating your gynecologist’s office when you’re afraid that’s what you might have.

While I do have a “primary” doctor at the practice, I prefer to see one of the FNP-BCs in the practice. Bonnie was really great with me, and sent orders over to the imaging place so I could call and schedule an appointment for My First MammogramTM and a diagnostic ultrasound. Since my birthday next month puts me closer to 40 than 30, she figured it’s not a bad idea to get a baseline mammogram anyways, and the ultrasound just to be sure that nothing’s hiding in there. She said my breast tissue is fibrocystic, especially on the right, where I had my concerns, so the ultrasound would help see through what was normal to find anything that might be abnormal.

When I got home, I called the imaging place, and the woman on the end of the line apologized because she didn’t have any openings until Monday. But then she asked me to hold, and when she came back, she said, “Can you come in now?” I said yes and jumped back into the van.

I could see why this place was my gynecologist’s imaging center of choice, despite there being several good ones in the area. Once you get past the main waiting area, the inside of the place is decorated to resemble an upscale spa.

Ladies Dressing Room mirror selfie

That picture was taken inside the Ladies Dressing Area after I changed into my ultra-stylish gown. The photo doesn’t do the place justice. The soft lighting and interior decorating made the whole place more comforting than the place I got my last massage and the nice place (read: when I don’t go to Fantastic Sam’s) where I go to get my eyebrows waxed. All of the imaging technicians wear fitted scrubs embroidered with their names, which you wouldn’t think is a big deal, but it feels a lot less impersonal than when I had my gastrointestinal imaging done at a local hospital where everyone wore basic baggy scrubs and plastic name badges. And when you’re freaking out about whether or not you have breast cancer, any little thing that makes it feel less clinical is a big help.

The woman who did my mammogram, Ruth, was very sweet. Every time we changed angles and whatnot, she asked to make sure I was okay. “I won’t ask if you’re comfortable, because you’re not, but if it’s tolerable.” She was very reassuring about the whole process, explaining things every step of the way. As it turns out, not only do I have “lumpy, bumpy” breast tissue, but the girls are also quite dense. Breast density makes it difficult to see things with just a mammogram, so instead of just doing the ultrasound on my right side, they were going to do the ultrasound on both sides. She explained that this wasn’t because there was anything to cause concern, but because the machine just can’t get the whole picture when you’re as dense, lumpy, and bumpy as I am.

I went back out into the inner waiting room, where everyone else was in their hospital gowns, too. It wasn’t long before the ultrasound technician came for me. I guessed she was 10 years younger than me, but she may just have a younger-looking face like I have. A breast ultrasound is far more intimate than a mammogram because you have an actual person manipulating your flesh and wanding you. (Side note: I think I could hear the ultrasonic frequencies the wand was shooting out at me, at least part of the range.) It was a very thorough procedure with no real discomfort except the mental kind, trying not to second-guess what all of the technician’s mouse clicks and breathing changes meant. Oh, and being covered with lubricant. In between the right and the left sides, I realized that it had dripped all over my gown, so the technician made sure to get me a clean gown before I left the room.

It was back to the inner waiting room once the ultrasound was over and I put my fresh gown on. They don’t let you get changed back into your own clothes yet, because the radiologist looks over the ultrasound before you leave, and sometimes they want an area examined more closely. But after a few minutes, the technician came back out and brought me into the Ladies Dressing Area to let me know the radiologist didn’t see anything that would cause concern, so I was free to get dressed and go.

I was so happy and relieved. Nothing to cause concern! Clean bill of health!

Or so I thought.

After calling my mom to tell her after the fact about the whole ordeal, and posting the good news in a Facebook group where I’d looked for some support, I received a call from my gynecologist’s office.

My gynecologist had looked over the results that the imaging place had sent her, and she thought it would be best for me to see a surgeon for a second opinion. She had felt the lump that I felt, and apparently it showed up on the mammogram, which hadn’t yet been properly reviewed when I left the imaging place.

A surgeon. A second opinion. I did not have a clean bill of health. It could still be cancer.

Or not. It could turn out to be a cyst or some other benign abnormality.

But I’m already in treatment for an anxiety disorder, so I don’t do “best case scenario” in my head. I prepare for the worst. I’m already pondering what to do if the word “mastectomy” is in my future and trying not to make travel plans or other big commitments for next summer, in case I need chemo.

I have a stereotactic biopsy scheduled for Friday, two days from now. I go back to see Ruth at Capital Imaging for that. I’ve been promised lidocaine and a very comfy chair. I will finally meet the surgeon, Dr. Mahatme, for a follow-up to learn my results oxt Friday. (I’m trying to help make oxt a thing. It means “not this Friday, but the one after that.” To avoid confusion with what the word “next” actually means.)

But those will be posts in and of themselves. For now, just please send prayers and positive thoughts in my general direction. I’m trying to console myself with the fact that the lack of urgency this past week shows that no one is worried that this lump will kill me. If it does turn out to be malignant, it’s hopefully small enough and early enough that treatment will essentially be more a temporary quality of life issue than a permanent quantity of life issue.

Update: The lump was determined to be benign, though they’ll be keeping an eye on things as time goes on.

Read my Big Fat Medical Update for more details.

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