Yesterday, I had a unique opportunity to see a world that hopefully most women will ever see. Unfortunately, I know too well that this will not be the case. I understand that one day, 1 out of 8 women will be standing exactly where I stood…and each one has my prayers. You see, last week, through a self examine, I found a rather large lump in my breast. Large as in the size of the first digit of your finger and it is scary as hell. To say that I did not sleep at night for the week it took me to get an appointment with my GYN is a mild statement. I rationalized all of the reasons that it was really going to be fine.
Caught it quick enough…..it was painful….easily detectable…. moveable….. yes, I know the signs, but the fear does not change. The truth is that one in 8 women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. Ready for my hard and fast visual to help you understand this? Next time you are in a restaurant or bar, count the number of women in the room (if you are a woman, be sure to count yourself). Now, divide by 8 and look around the room again. Realize that you might be that one in 8.
Fortunately, through a long long series of tests, mammograms, and ultrasounds yesterday, I learned that it is a cyst. They are going to have to take a small needle and drain it (they call this aspiration). I felt blessed and relieved. But, as I looked around the waiting room a stark reality hit me right in the face. I was sitting with each of those 1 in 8 women. They shared some common characteristics.
- They were all scared as hell.
- Not one was ready to die.
- Each one was scared of the next step.
- All had information that could help the next set of women.
I don’t know what their healing process is like, but I have a blog. I want to share some of the truths with you.
♀ Self examination will save your life. You need to know what your breasts feel like. You need to know if something changes. Do you really want to risk your life on a doctor that does an exam once a year? Need to know how? Heres the scoop.
♀ Mammograms are not that bad. If you have had a baby or a pap, then you can handle this easy. There is a little squeeze to it. I wont lie. But, at most, it is uncomfortable for less than 10 seconds. A man with strong hands might do the same in a passionate moment. The image is taken and the cover auto releases.
♀ Finding a lump will be one of the scariest things in your life. Fear should not stop you from doing something—it should make you understand the action better. If you have children, you have a responsibility to show them how to take care of themselves properly (especially if they are female). There is so much more that can be done now than even 10 years ago. Don’t let the fear take your chance away.
♀ Don’t think past the next step. If you go into it thinking about pain or what might happen, you will make yourself crazy. Step back, take a deep breath, and think only of what must be done now to get you the care you need. Read from responsible publications (not the tons of horror stories on the internet!). One such book is Dr. Susan Loves Breast Book suggested by MysteryMika.
♀ Make informed decisions. Understand what your doctor is advising you to do. Ask questions if you have them. Ask for clarification. Most will get you into a testing facility ASAP because they respect the toll this is taking on your mentality and because they want to stop what is happening as quickly as possible.
♀ Participate in what is happening to you. The normal reaction is to run like hell. I wanted so badly to cancel the appointment yesterday morning. Maybe it would go away. Maybe I was over reacting. Maybe…right? Wrong. Fight the fear….you need to know.
♀ Surround yourself with people you love and those that love you. So, you don’t want sympathy. Ok, maybe you want your privacy. Yes, you probably don’t want to scare people unnecessarily. But, think of yourself for once. Let others love you and love other. It will help you when you face the alone moments to know that right outside of this room, someone is there!
Yesterday, my world turned pink for a few hours. My prayer and thoughts are with women everywhere who will feel the fear that I experienced…except, they wont have the relief at the end of the day that I did. A cyst….yes….that they will have to drain with a needle. Thank God. As I walked out, I passed a woman with tears in her eyes and I wanted to hug her. Tell her to be strong. All I could think was “there but for the grace of God go I.” ~~Dee