Thursday, September 25, 2008

My big scare. By Stephanie age 32.

So I've been walking all the time and the place I walk the most is very heavily wooded. I had a huge amount of bug bites on both of my legs and on my arms and so when I was putting on deodorant one day and felt kind of ouchy about it, I figured I had gotten a bug bite under my arm.

Yes, I know that sounds crazy. But it made sense at the time.

It didn't feel better for a few days, so I looked at it again and noticed that it was red and raised and kind of bumpy. I felt of it and I definately felt a lump. Not a bug bite, but a definate, sincere, raised lump.

But I didn't freak out, you know? Why would I. It's just a lump under my arm. Could be a million things, right? Of course.

That night I was doing my civic duty as a woman and the daughter of a breast cancer survivor and feeling myself up.

And then I felt a lump.

It felt sort of the same as the one under my arm.

I felt again, just to make sure. Because, see, I'm kind of paranoid about breast cancer. I have been for a long time. I didn't want to see something that wasn't there.

I felt it again. It was there.


I still didn't panic or freak out. I went to bed. The next day I went to work and as soon as the doctor's office opened I called them and said, "I need to come in, I have a lump".

So they asked me to come in the next day.

So I did.

And the doctor?

Found a total of three more lumps. In addition to the two I had already found.

And then the doctor?

Said, "How old was your mom when she was diagnosed?"

And I heard myself say, "Forty".

She said immediately, "Let's get this checked out right away".

I sat in the examining room, waiting. I could hear the nurse on the phone outside the door of my room. Scheduling an appointment for a mammogram. I heard her say,

"She's only thirty-two," and there was a pause and then, "Her mother was forty when she was diagnosed".

I have never in my life felt so alone and so young.

The next morning I went and had a mammogram and a breast ultrasound. I was the youngest person there and I felt very alone and scared. In my mind I felt like it was nothing, but I kept having these nagging doubts.

Turns out it WAS nothing, but I found out that I am at an increased risk for breast cancer, based on how I answered questions on the assessment I was given. A normal woman's risk of breast cancer in her lifetime is 12%.

My risk is 25%.

I asked my doctor if there was anything I could do to improve my odds, and sadly, there is nothing. I have the double whammy of having both parents have cancer and the misfortune of having a mother who was diagnosed very young.

The worst case scenario for me, at this point, is that I catch something very early.

I'm going to make sure that's the worst thing that happens.