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Wellness

How to Love Your Boobies!

Let me say right up front… nothing ruins sexy time with your significant other quite like finding a lump in your breast, the right one to be exact. My boyfriend began gravitating towards my personal favorite boob, when all of a sudden he looked like a deer in the headlights and said “Whoa!” But it was not the “Whoa” you get when a man is in awe of your beautiful anatomy. It was the exclamation that comes when someone you love finds a lump in your breast that was not there before. I grazed the spot on my chest that made his skin grow pale and found what felt like a pebble right above my nipple. I impressively grew whiter than I ordinarily am. Like anyone in this situation, my first thought was, “OH S***! I only have four weeks to live.” That thought was immediately followed by, “Let’s Google it!” 

So there we were, naked and googling “breast lumps,” otherwise known as the height of romance. Of course, the first search result was “breast cancer.” I have a history of various cancers in my family tree, so the possibility of developing a tumor was not out of the question. My stomach turned, my anxiety heightened and I had a Kardashian level ugly cry. My boyfriend was a saint who made me laugh through the tears by telling me stories of his catholic school mishaps and reasoned with me that the lump could be a cyst. He even helped me name it to lighten the mood. (It’s name is Chaz.)

Regardless of the laundry list of symptoms present on WebMD that pointed to my lump being a minor issue, it was hard to not assume the worst. That night consisted of hours of silent tears rolling down my face and contemplating what I still have yet to do with my life. I have yet to see Justin Timberlake live in concert, eat at Emeril’s restaurant and learn how to both simultaneously sip and paint.

I obviously had to figure out where to go from the initial find. Logically, I made an appointment with the Women’s Clinic on Kent State’s campus as that was the resource closest to me. If you have not picked up on this yet, it is hard for me to be serious, which made telling my mom about the breast lump the hardest thing I have had to do. Knowing your family and friends will be kept up at night the same way you lie awake is incredibly hard to come to terms with. My boyfriend sat next to me as I dialed my home number and tried to keep my breathing steady. To my surprise, my father answered the phone and was rather offended when I asked that he put my mother on the line. When the lovely woman who gave birth to me came on the phone, I began the conversation about the donuts I ate that day. (We are very passionate about breakfast foods.) After discussing frostings for far too long, I simply broke and said “Mom, I found a lump in breast. I have a doctor’s appointment on campus in a couple days.” Her answer was calm and measured: exactly what I needed. “I’m proud of you and we will get this figured out,” she said.

Flash forward to three days later when my feet were dangling from a medical examination table while a doctor examines the lump and kindly ignores my arm pit stubble. She said just about the scariest set of words that are not, “You have cancer.” She said, “I don’t know.” I actually began to laugh at her response. I was given instructions on how to obtain an ultrasound so doctors could take a closer look. Still laughing, I walked outside to my mom’s red van with a minion sticker on the back and handed her the paper that gave the locations of nearby imaging centers. Trying to hold back tears, I asked her if she was up for some Thai food. While she would never pass up a good yellow curry, she was concerned as to why I was smiling. “It’s just how I cope, I’m not a psychopath” I said. 

At dinner, I explained that I “love my boobies” and never wanted to lose one or both of them. It’s not a vain sentiment. They make me feel like a powerful lady who can do anything and they look great in a v-neck. It would be like losing anything that gives you your identity, whether that be your hair for a shampoo-commercial-flip, your teeth for a dazzling smile or even a certain accessory that really makes you feel whole. My mom laughed, but I could still see the worry in her eyes and it broke my heart to know my dad’s eyes looked the same while he was sitting at home.

 

Flash forward yet again five days later to another medical examination table. This time I am rocking a chic medical robe and combat boots: a timeless look. My nurse is a sweet lady who asks about my hopes, dreams and smooth arm pits which puts me at ease. She conducts the ultrasound going over the bump, which at this point, protrudes from my skin and becomes easily sore. “It’s not a cyst. It’s a solid growth,” she said with a solemn look. With hers and the doctor’s recommendation, I was scheduled for a biopsy a week later.

Now, for those of you who may not know, a biopsy is when a doctor numbs the breast, makes an incision near the area of concern and takes samples of the lump’s tissue with a large needle. In the words of comedian and poet Bo Burnham, “If you wanna know me, here’s two facts!” I hate needles and I pass out like it’s my job. So you can imagine my surprise when I saw this tool on staring at me from a metal medical tray attached to the operating table.

Two nurses stood on either side of me, one telling me, “You’re the youngest person we’ve ever performed a biopsy on.” GREAT! I turned away, already feeling light headed, as the doctor injected my upper breast with Lidocaine. I felt pressure from the scalpel’s shallow cut into my skin and felt a warm rush drip down my skin. I would later come to realize that this was a lot of blood and I am happy I did not get to see that pretty sight! The doctor warned me I would feel a little pressure from the biopsy needle, which was followed by what sounded like stapling two pieces of paper. He did this action twice and after that, I passed out COLD. 

I am rather impressed that I managed to stay awake during the whole procedure. More impressively, I passed out while already lying down! I woke up to the sharp scent of smelling salts, covered in my own blood and getting bandaged up by a nurse. I felt like I was in a SAW movie! After a minute of collecting my anxious thoughts, I gathered my clothes, some bra sized ice packs and what was left of my dignity, and walked out the sliding glass doors with my mom back to the minion car.

The next three days felt like the some of longest in my life. Tears leaked all over my notes during lectures, I stained my pillows during my numerous day naps and I even cried while watching The Hangover movies. Does that seem like it’s straight out of a soap opera? Perhaps. But I was petrified to hear the possibly life-altering results and allowed my time to stand still. I regret that.

Three days later, I received a call. They said that I had a “fibroadenoma” buried in my chest, otherwise described as a “noncancerous breast tumor that occurs in young women.” I wish they would have waited to give me the scary medical term after my test results, but I was relieved. A month of fear and gray hairs resolved itself in a couple seconds. My friends and family could not have been more grateful that it wasn’t serious. The growth will be little to no problem for me and should disappear on its own in time. 

By now, I bet you are wondering what the point of this story is. I am simply here to implore all young women to perform monthly self breast exams (techniques shown below) and familiarize your partner with your breasts as well. Early detection is key and understanding your body can only benefit you in the long run. It is vital to spread awareness about breast lumps and what they mean because they are not always cancerous. Some women have fibrosis in their breasts, which just refers to more fibrous and tough breast tissue. Breast cysts most often occur in women in their 20s and 30s and are benign fluid-filled sacs that arrive during menstrual cycles. Fibroadenomas, like I had, are solid tumors that feel rubber-y and tender. They occur mostly in 20 year olds, but they can happen during pregnancy as well. Often times, they fluctuate in size, and can be surgically removed if necessary. According to the American Cancer Society: “Women with simple fibroadenomas have a slightly increased risk of breast cancer – about 1½ times the risk of women with no breast changes. Complex fibroadenomas seem to increase the risk slightly more than simple fibroadenomas.” 

 

If you or a loved one finds any lumps, bumps, etc. in your breast, contact your health provider as soon as possible. Be sure to diagnose and track what is and is not normal for your body. Breast cancer is found in 1 in 8 women and is the second leading cause of death in American females. Don’t be a statistic. Check your boobies. Protect your boobies. LOVE YOUR BOOBIES!

 

 

In love with jokes, comprehensive sex ed and Stephen Colbert-- (Stephen, call me!) Kent State University Class of 2020, Current Freelance Journo Follow @MaSerra8 on Twitter :-)
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