I had a breast lump removed last month. Sounds scarier than it was.
Having a lump show up in my left breast, while I was breastfeeding, over three years ago, initially scared the shit out of me. Having it checked out and being told it was not dangerous, but would be something that grew and shrank over time, at its little cysty whim – “and call us if it’s ever so bothersome that you want us to replace it with a scar” -was annoying. But beyond that mild annoyance, I was grateful. Grateful that it wasn’t the awful thing it could have been. Grateful that I was the 30-something woman in a shower who found a lump and didn’t have to follow that finding up with chemo. Or worse.
It’s interesting how something so potentially fatal can become your little secret, so quickly. The minute you find that not-so-lovely-lady-lump … BAM, new secret! And as you live with it, but before that lump is diagnosed, you pick and choose who you can tell. And who you tell is not about who you trust most, or who deserves to know, but more so who you think can be burdened with the worry of it – and, most of all, who you think can shoulder YOUR worry of it.
My lump was nothing. My lump was just enough to be in-and-outside the breast tissue. My stupid lump was right where your bra’s underwire likes to eventually give out and poke you in the cleavage. Right THERE. That’s where my lump was. And for a very long time it grew between pebble-size to aggressive pebble-size (so, mostly nothing) usually with my lady cycle. Always visible above the surface of the skin, but never enough to warrant the removal. Until, that is, it blew up, three years later, hundreds of miles from home, in Dinseyland.
Suddenly, where there’d been a small, meager, unsightly pebble in my cleavage, there was now an angry, red, golf ball-sized Motherfucker! And we were on vacation. And not a real vacation, either. I think real vacations probably don’t involve small children. Or Disneyland. We had small children. In Disneyland. I’m just saying, there were no spa days. No couples massages. Certainly no sex. I’m not even sure what couples without children DO on vacation, besides laugh at other couples with children (while they eat grapes and get massages and have sex). But , besides the digressing, for a million reasons our particular vacation was incredibly bad timing for a Motherfucker!
Now, if you’re wondering why I didn’t rush, straight away, to a southern CA E.R., it’s because I’d lived with Motherfucker’s more mild-mannered cousin, Littlefucker, for almost four years prior. I knew M.F. wasn’t going to kill me. I knew it wasn’t cancer. And I had a strong feeling that M.F. was just being….well…true to its namesake. None the less, the moment we arrived home I made my doctor’s appointment. And the very moment I scheduled surgery was the very same instant Motherfucker began to shrink to a state of nothingness. Went cystfully on it’s way to becoming a microscopic figment of my left boob’s imagination.
By the time surgery was scheduled the lump was nolonger visible, but it was difficult to turn back. My darling Swedish surgeon (the one that hugged me at my post-op visit, upon the news that the bipospy came back malignancy -free) agreed that good old Mofo could, and probably would, grow strong again, the minute I decided it was no longer a threat. So, I didn’t cancel surgery, and under the anesthesia/knife I went.
Days of convalesce followed, much of it older lady related. Turns out my neck does not like being prone for 20 hours at a time and will protest such with 48 hours of muscle spams galore – and that’s so another blog for another time. Maybe I can start writing a “just turned 35 and these are my exciting new health problems” blog.
I foolishly thought I’d be up and running, same day. Had I known better I would’ve mentioned the surgery to friends. I didn’t even tell my mom. I wasn’t trying to be brave, or long, silent, pass-me-the-cross suffering – I just treated the whole business as seriously as I would a dental cleaning. My mistake. As it turns out, scalpels slicing into your chest cavity and tubes shoved down your unconscious throat are, no matter how you wish it, kind of a big deal. Lesson learned.
But the brightest spot is, I woke up from anesthesia and told my nurses,”I just dreamt of my children!”
In my suburban mom days, I’ve seen many a ubiquitous “LIVE, LAUGH, LOVE” sign. And that was my dream of my children! Sans acrylic painted wood planks, craft lettering and glue guns. There was just the living, the laughing and the loving stuff. It felt something like pure freaking joy. So much so that I woke from surgery and spoke of them to strangers. I just wanted to cuddle them. My children, of course, not the strangers. My children. The same children that aren’t a proper vacation. My incredible children.
And it all boils back down to the whole gratitude thing. A big theme of mine lately – being grateful. I woke from surgery grateful. For it ALL. For my health, for this crazy wonderful family I have, and for so much more. And though I know things are temporary, fleeting, never-quite-ever-forever, the right now of it is pretty damn sweet! I’m relishing it.
Lady lumps be damned!