I sat in my husband’s arms and wept. “I don’t want to die” I whispered, trembling with fear. He was quiet and stroked my hair assuring me that I wasn’t going to die. But the fear was real. The lump was real. And it’s more common than you think so I’d like to share my story here.
I’m 36 years old. I have no history of breast cancer in my family. I’ve never drank alcohol or smoked. The only outlier that puts me at risk for breast cancer is being overweight/obese.
This is my story.
I live with anxiety and OCD. We’ll get into that more on another day. But suffice it to say that having these mental illnesses has many drawbacks. However, it also makes me hypervigilant about checking my breasts. I do self breast exams regularly. Me and my boobs are intimate friends. I know how they feel. I’ve watched them swell in the week before my period, and slowly decrease back to normal when my cycle begins. I know how my nipples perk up in the cold, and how they flatten out nice and smooth when it’s warm. In short, I know my boobs really, really well. So, last week when I was doing my routine self-exam and felt a small lump I froze.
I moved my fingers around the area of my breast slowly. I prodded and felt a small lump. My heartrate skyrocketed. “Honey!” I called him from the other room, “can you come in here?”. A minute later we were quiet as he felt around my breast. I saw him purse his lips. He felt it too. I swallowed hard and desperately tried to slow down my heartrate from beating out of my chest. But I’m not going to sugar coat things: I’ve read the statistics that 1 in 8 women will get breast cancer in their lives. I’ve read that Caucasian women are more prone to breast cancer more than any other race. I’ve also read that most lumps in breasts are benign/ non-malignant (not cancer). Still, I was scared to my core.
We called my OBGYN and scheduled an appointment for yesterday. That meant I had to wait 4 long days before I could see my doctor.
All week long I wrestled with emotions. How could this happen to me? Dude, I’m 36! I’m not that old yet! What if it is cancer and I have to undergo chemotherapy? I don’t mind losing my hair, but I’m scared to be really, really sick. I texted both sides of my family and let them know what was going on. Everyone was on standby. All week long, Daddy and I snuggled, watched movies, and talked about everything. We began processing the fear together. He was so strong, but I could see it in his eyes that he was nervous too. As if the heavens were sending us a sign, on the day of my appointment (yesterday) the sky opened up to the biggest rainstorm we have seen all year long. I practically swam into my OBGYN’s office! With a double face mask and gloves on I hopped up on the bench in the exam room and was a nervous wreck.
**Side note: Can I pause here and give a massive shoutout to anyone working in the medical field, especially during this pandemic? You all are heroes! Truly. ❤ ❤ **
I could feel the tension in the doctor’s office as everyone was following COVID-19 protocol but still, there was this feeling of anxiousness to get close to people. My wonderful OBGYN gave me a thorough exam and found the lump. “It’s right there!” I blurted out with wide eyes. I didn’t want to feel like I was crazy anymore. I knew my breasts and there was a lump in there.
“It’s a fluid-filled benign cyst” she said gently, “But we are going to follow-up with a 3D mammogram and an ultrasound just to put your mind at ease”. Y’all if I didn’t break down and cry right there in relief….
Walking back to the car I cried right along with the rain. My hubby saw my tears and jumped out of the car throwing open his arms. I slammed into him with a bear hug. “It’s a cyst” I cried. “No cancer”.
For years I have been the girl to tell anyone and everyone that life is short. You need to live your life with honesty, loving-kindness, and to be true to what your heart desires. I say you, but obviously I’m included in that too. 🙂 Which brings me to the “100 Days of Happiness”.
I have anxiety and OCD. This means that 99% of the time I am desperately trying to be logical, productive, and to multi-task to the best of my ability. But recently I have begun to get professional therapy and in doing so I was told that I need to make space in my life to relax and be happy. I don’t need to multi-task. I need to move slower. I need to do things with intention. My doctor asked me, “what do you like to do to relax?”. I hesitated and felt embarrassed. How do I relax?, I wondered. For the past 4 months I have been healing and mentally regrouping with my husband. Now that we are stronger and more transparent than ever, I knew that it was time to begin to do things purely for fun and joy.
So, for the next 100 days I am going to chronicle my journey of fun and joy on here. As an adult Little my definition of fun might look similar to yours. I like to find magic in the ordinary. I like to explore new foods, movies, or games. I’m a giant nerd who loves “The Mandalorian” and “Lord of the Rings”.
Life is short. And I intend to make the most of this life. So, come along with me, and I hope you make space for happiness and fun too. Sending you all smiles and hugs on this Friday!