Sunday, October 26, 2014

Squeeze A Boob, Save a Life - Why I Feel My Tatas on the Regular

I'm 28 years old. And like most twenty-somethings, I had this nonsensical idea that I was medically invincible. That I was too young to ever fall victim to any of  those crazy ailments and diseases that have earned themselves Facebook campaigns, or above the fold articles on the front page of a newspaper or even an entire month dedicated to its awareness.

Don't get me wrong, I don't avoid medical interventions. In fact, like I was supposed to, I went through the motions: I paid my copays and saw my doctors regularly. I begrudging peed into that teeny, tiny little cup. I mean, c'mon -- how the heck does anyone manage to aim perfectly into that thing?! I unwillingly had my blood drawn what feels like a million times each year. I got my goods groped, fondled, poked and prodded on the regular. Just like I was supposed to. But through all of these rote, mundane appointments, it never crossed my mind that my doctors would find anything.

And they didn't.

But my husband did. A little more than a year ago, at the peak of my 20-something invincibility, my husband jokingly grabbed me one day and then did a double take. With a concerned look, he stuttered, "come here for a minute, let me see something, Cynthia." What should have been a sexy interaction between a married couple quickly turned into a nightmarish prodding and googling session.

Ya, don't ever google your symptoms. Ever. Just trust me.

My husband had found a lump in my left breast. And not a small one that we could pretend like we were simply overreacting over. A seemingly huge, unmistakable mass in my breast. And I'm sure it didn't pop up overnight. But until that point, I was the medical Superwoman of the millennium.

To make a long story short, after several agonizing days, a trip to my gynecologist and a trip for an ultrasound, from which I didn't excitedly leave with a "It's a Boy" or "It's a Girl" photo, I learned that I was cancer free.

But I did learn a few things. I learned that I had two fairly large cysts, one 2.5mm and another over 3mm sitting side by side - no wonder one boob had been so much bigger looking than the other! I learned that doctors don't catch everything at the once or twice a year appointments you make with them. Most importantly, I learned how critical it is to pay attention to your own body - be your own advocate.

Since that incident, my girls and I have become best of friends. Every time I shower, I check for changes in my cysts and any new growths. Just last month, I discovered a new lump in my other breast. Which, despite my history with cysts, caused me to freak out. Luckily, this new lump turned out to be another cyst. And it has lots of tiny friends, too. These cysts are completely benign and are not known to turn into anything aggressive.

I can't stress to you the importance of knowing your body. And realizing you are NOT invincible. Make sure you perform a breast self-exam at least monthly. And make sure you speak up if you notice anything out of the ordinary. Don't wait to "see if it goes away." Get it checked.

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month. I'm fortunate enough to have no family history of breast cancer. But my husband's grandmother was a breast cancer survivor and I have friends and colleagues who have family members who have been affected by breast cancer. Help spread the word and bring awareness to early detection. When breast cancer is detected early, the 5-year survival rate is 98%!

Make sure you squeeze a boob - it could save a life.






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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

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