My breasts aren't as important to me as they used to be now that I'm no longer breast feeding or in competition for the attention of sexual partners. However, they are mine - ALL mine - and when they misbehave, it attracts my attention. Any female who has ever had a period, a child,or entered menopause understands that occasionally our breasts will be a source of discomfort. It's usually a hormone thing and although it sometimes lasts for several days, it is part of life and so we adjust and accept.
On Thursday last, that would be July 13, 2006, I noticed some slight discomfort in my right breast. It piqued my curiousity because normally this discomfort would be felt in both breasts, not just one. It was a lovely summer day and I am an avid gardener so I ignored it and continued with my weeding. On Friday, the breast was bothering me a bit more. I noticed pain in my nipple when my arm brushed my breast or when my shirt rubbed against my nipple. This was annoying, but there was also something in the back of my mind trying to work its way to the front. Something I had heard about a kind of cancer that is often overlooked, but which can be deadly. I looked for information at http://www.breastcancer.org/ , http://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/ , http://www.komen.org/, and http://www.ibcresearch.org/.
It turns out, the kind of breast cancer I was trying to think of is inflammatory breast cancer. A very scary prospect. By the time I had read until my eyes felt like two white onions in a martini, and my mind was stuffed with images of some very unfortunate looking breasts, it was late Friday night.
Saturday morning I appeared at the local walk-in clinic the moment it opened (it appeared there were other folks with the same idea - they must have camped out overnight). In any event, I only had to wait about an hour and a half before seeing the doc. Let me interject something here; the doctor was young and drop-dead gorgeous. When he walked into the exam room, I nearly got up and walked out. His manner was very professional however; which went a long way towards overcoming my reticence (and AWE!) about exposing my, let's just call them *mature* breasts. Besides, I was scared.
The doctor examined me very carefully; I have a lump beneath the aureole of my right breast and it is inflamed. Inflammatory breast cancer has symptoms that mimic mastitis. The doctor gave me a prescription for an antibiotic and asked me to make an immediate appointment with my regular doctor for follow up. Today is Sunday. It is another beautiful day and I have enjoyed it tremendously. An added treat; the little mobile home I rent is on 20 acres of woods and across from my front window is a large meadow. Into that meadow this morning came a doe and her fawn, a sight that is quickly vanishing from this once rural environment. The peacefullness of a doe grazing in a meadow is a fine gift for me. The lesson is not lost.
It was a moment of happiness descending without notice. I thought of the many times someone I knew had to go in for a biopsy and my response was, "don't worry, most of the time there is nothing there." I will never give that response again, for even though true, that moment is not lightened by reassurance, it needs only an arm around the shoulders and silence.