This post will be a little bit different this week. I pretty much want to talk about my most recent breast cancer scare and my lessons learned for the experience overall. Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers. It is overly more common in African American women. I lost my aunt to breast cancer 14 years ago and till this day remember her hard fight with the disease. Due to the fact that my aunt did lose her battle with breast cancer my physician suggested that I start getting earlier screenings for the disease. So since the age of 35, I have been going faithfully for mammograms.
In late 2018, I went for my usual annual checkup and I mentioned to my provider that I had been feeling some extreme tenderness, soreness and swelling in both my breast for about 2 months now and that breast felt like they were a cup size bigger. I really didn’t think much about it because I do have an IUD in place so I assumed it was some hormonal things I was going through. She advised that breast tenderness was common and that it wasn’t something I should worry about. She then precedes with my normal exams and as she was doing my breast exam, she asked if I had felt this lump before and of course I said no because the lump was more under my breast near my ribcage. At this point in my mind, I am freaking out. She measures the lump and tells me about what size the lump is and that she was very concerned. I was scheduled for my mammogram screening the next few days so she called in and ordered an ultrasound as well.
I can tell you those few days were the worse days of my life. This experience took me back to my aunt. Her mammogram screening didn’t initially pick up her cancer but unfortunately, her cancer was discovered in a chest x-ray after she started complaining about discomfort in her chest. So I am sitting here at home mad at myself because I never felt it. I had done self breast exams at home but I may not had really just felt in that area of my breast. So many things ran through my head. What if I do have cancer? Would I lose my breast? Would I not win the fight just like my aunt? I was terrified of leaving my daughter and my family. You never know what a woman with breast cancer is going through until you are faced with the same potential diagnosis.
The day came for my mammogram and ultrasound. I first had the mammogram in which they took extra scans of both my breast. Once that was done I went in for my ultrasound. The technician set up the ultrasound machine and place the scanning wand on the area where my provider found the mass. She was looking on the screen to see if she could find anything and I was looking as well but there was nothing to see. She took a few pictures and had the doctor take a look and he didn’t see anything either. Then she asked me a question. Have I been drinking or eating things that contained caffeine? I was confused by the question, but my response was yes I usually drink about a cup or two of coffee every morning. She then precedes to tell me that I have fibrocystic breast tissue and there is a big possibility that I am having a reaction to the caffeine. After I left my appointment, I went home and immediately googled this and I found that my symptoms it is extremely common in women with fibrocystic breast tissue. The next day I spoke to my provider and told her what I was told and she says stop the caffeine intake for a week and see if I notice any changes.A week goes by and I started to notice that my extreme tenderness in my breast was gone and I could no longer feel the lump.
My follow-up appointment was the following week and I was upbeat and nervous at the same time. My provider had my mammogram and ultrasound results and she tells me that my results were normal. I then preceded to tell her that I can’t seem to find the lump anymore. She gives me another breast exam and surprisingly she couldn’t find the lump either. She then gives me the all clear but for all of my breast screening in the future, she is going to also request ultrasounds.
Towards the end of my ordeal, I learned a few things. To be more in-depth with my breast exams and to cut down on the caffeine. Unfortunately, a lot of women will not have the same outcome as I did but still, in the back of my mind there will always be a chance that it may happen.
I truly hope that those that read this take something away from my experience. If you have also been through this or you are currently suffering from this disease, my thoughts and prayers are with you. I can only hope that one day this disease will be a thing of the past.