I've spent a lot of time thinking about my breasts this week. On Wednesday, I received a call from Ginger at the Breast Health Center. I knew she was not calling with good news. I'd had my annual screening mammogram (If you are over 40, schedule your annual screening today!) the week before, and they don't call you just to tell you everything is OK.
Sure enough, she was calling because the radiologist had seen an area of "abnormal density" in my right breast. She needed to schedule some additional tests so they could take a closer look. We set an appointment for next week, and I went about my day. But not without a sick feeling deep in my gut.
I've been down this road before. About six years ago, I felt a lump in my breast during a monthly self exam (You do those, right? RIGHT?!). I'd also been experiencing throbbing pain in that area. I went to see my OBGYN, who could feel the lump, too and ordered a mammogram.
They weren't able to figure out what was going on from those images, so they did an ultrasound. Turns out I had a cluster of benign, fluid filled cysts in my left breast. Nothing to worry about. Which was a relief, because I had been.
This time, I feel nothing. And I've tried. After that phone call, I tried really hard to feel something, anything out of the ordinary in my right breast. I molested the heck out of myself. Nada. At least to my untrained hands. No pain or tenderness either.
And so I've been thinking about my breasts. How they developed later than some of my classmates, and how jealous I was. How they more than caught up, and continued to grow until I had nothing to be jealous about. (The tables had turned; people were now jealous of mine!) How much our society seems to be obsessed with them. (Not mine on that last point, just in general.)
I have a whole new respect for my breasts now that they have actually fulfilled the purpose for which they are designed. I nursed my daughter for 11 months. And the power of my breasts to do that amazed me. It impressed my husband, too. He thought it was so cool. "Your body is amazing," he exclaimed. "It has the ability to not only create and grow a life, but also to sustain it." And he's right; it is cool.
Nursing was harder than I thought it was going to be. And I was not the least bit prepared for the fact that my life would revolve around it. But I loved breastfeeding. It was such a beautiful, amazing, special experience. I'm so glad I was able to do it. And some days I miss it.
Since I stopped nursing, I have been hating my breasts. They never returned to their former glory. They are awful! Ruined. Worse than I had feared. And, quite frankly, they disgust me. Thank goodness for Victoria's Secret. Without a magic bra to hoist them up and make it look like they hang where they're supposed to, I don't know what I would do.
But now I feel guilty about all the bad things I have said and thought about my breasts lately. Because they could be sick. They're probably not. The majority of abnormal mammograms turn out to be OK. But I'm not above admitting I'm a little anxious. Again.