Friday, November 03, 2006

A Long (and Possibly Boring) Post

This post isn't exactly the fun, fluffy stuff that we usually post on the blog but it's been a part of our lives recently and I guess it deserves some space here. If you're a bit squeamish or don't especially like discussing medical things, than this is not a post that you'd probably like to read.

Right before we got married I found a lump in my breast that was about the size of a nickel. My doctor stated that it was probably a cyst, a fairly normal occurrence for women, and that it could be easily removed. I went to a specialist who performed an ultrasound and informed me that it wasn't a cyst (fluid filled sac) but instead was an abnormal growth of breast cells. The specialist removed most of it using a needle with a slicer/vacuum attachment. Unfortunately, the lump couldn't be removed in its entirely due to its close proximity to my skin; however, believing it to be a benign growth of breast cells, the specialist informed me that it was fine to leave the remainder in place. I thought that we were done. Instead, I got a call later that week from my doctor who told me that the biopsy had revealed that instead of the previously suspected abnormal breast cells, I actually had a tumor. This was not the news I was expecting. I had a type of tumor that is fairly common in young women and that is considered fairly benign. However, mine was growing at an unusually fast rate and the chances of it becoming cancerous were slightly elevated. This was worrisome. Full removal of the tumor required that I have a surgical procedure at our local hospital. That occurred yesterday and I am at home recuperating today. I should mention that I was pleasantly surprised by the hospital and the nursing staff. I , like most people, tend to feel a little uncomfortable in hospitals; being in a hospital means that something is wrong with you and that's a scary feeling. Staring up at the lights in the operating room and waiting for the anesthesia to kick in is also kind of frightening. But the nursing staff, my anesthesiologist and my surgeon were all equally patient and kind. Patients really appreciate a little kindness when they're a bit frightened. We did have a funny episode concerning bruises. The nurse, prior to the surgery, asked if I had any bruises. I pointed out the one on my arm (below). She took one horrified look at it and asked if I was being abused. I laughed and said no, it was left over from bloodwork procedures the week before. I have really small veins and they tend to collapse when needles are poked into them. It's messy and rather disgusting to look at. You know, it's kind of funny, but I think that the average 25 year old pretty much thinks that they're invincible in bodily terms. I've been blessed with fairly good health thus far; I've had the normal sprains and joint/muscle problems that are associated with athletic activities and I had my tonsils and wisdom teeth removed but I'd never had anything growing in my body that wasn't supposed to be there. Quite frankly, I was a bit offended and annoyed with my body when I discovered that I had a tumor. I realize that this might seem a bit naive and small-minded of me but that was my honest reaction. At my age, I'm not supposed to be sick. My health is something that I've always taken for granted but it's amazing how quickly that sense of security can disappear.

I guess I hope this post will remind all you ladies out there to do your monthly breast exams. Don't rely on your doctor to find it at your yearly physical. I had to point this one out to my doctor and it still took him forever to actually acknowledge that it wasn't normal lumpy tissue. Thankfully, my case wasn't serious but it can be, especially for older women. So, start doing those monthly exams!
Best,
Sonja