July 9, 2010

Breast obsessed

          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.

30 comments:

  1. Oh gosh. I hope everything is OK. Sending you positive thoughts & prayers.

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  2. Sending lots of white light and good thoughts your way. Stay positive.

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  3. Oh I'm so sorry! I feel really bad now about making boob comments on Twitter! I'll definitely be thinking good thoughts for you!

    I was also amazed at the realization that my breasts could sustain life. Such a beautiful feeling.

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  4. @ Krista & Jeannie - Thank you!

    @ Mungee's Ma - Don't apologize. I used like 20 slang words for breasts to draw attention to this post. LOL I'm trying to promote breast health awareness. ;)

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  5. Hope everything is okay! I totally hate my boobs after breastfeeding- they are limp little saggy things! But I am so glad that I was able to feed my 2 children. As you said, they served their purpose!

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  6. @ Mommy - Thanks, hon! Limp and saggy - yup! You know, my hubby doesn't understand why I hate them so much. He thinks they are still beautiful. I guess I should be happy with that! LOL

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  7. Yes, my breasts are purely functional at this point. Altho that's ending soon, and I'm going to have to find a good support system, if you know what I mean!

    Thinking positive thoughts for you!

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  8. @ Cheryl - I do know what you mean! ;) Good luck with the weaning process. I had a tough time with it. Very emotional.

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  9. I've had the things you mention: cysts (many), abnormal density, saggy boobs. Then I got breast cancer (at 37), a double mastectomy, and new perky reconstructed silicone ones that defy gravity (there's a lot to laugh at in the whole process). It's all very scary, and even though chances are that things will be okay, it's hard not to worry. My youngest child was 7 months old when I was diagnosed (othes were 8 and 4), and my first reaction to "you have cancer" was "I'm too busy for cancer."

    I applaud you for not running out of fear. Whatever it is, you CAN deal with it, and by acting quickly and aggressively, you are doing the best for your body. I will be following along every step of the way. I hope it will be nothing.

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  10. I'll be praying. And I'll be doing my own self exam tonight. Thanks for the reminder about how important that is.

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  11. sending all of the good thoughts i've got your way, mama! hang in there & keep us posted. and btw, well done with this post! articulating so many breast-issues can be tricky anytime, but especially when feeling worried. i hope you weekend is filled with all things relaxing. like a bubble bath. or a pedi. or a bubble bath *and a pedi! :)

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  12. @ Lisa - Thank you! I'm optimistic. But if I have to face the worst, it will be women like you who inspire me. I have a number of friends who are breast cancer survivors, and I know I could count on them for support and guidance. But even if it's nothing, it is an important reminder that we have to stay on top of these things. Ignoring them is the worst thing you could do. How long have you been cancer free now?

    @ Hyacynth - Good! That was part of my point. I think we all need reminders now and then. We tend to put ourselves last, and that includes our health. Self-exams and regular MD visits are very important.

    @ Mamaleh - Yes, I don't normally blog about breasts! LOL And I was a little wary about doing it. But I felt I should. It's not really about me, it's about reminding women of the issue (although it was helpful to write my feelings down). Unfortunately, I'm starting my weekend off with a sick child, so I don't think it will be relaxing. But it certainly will help me keep my mind off... me!

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  13. Excellent post, darlin'. Many years ago, my mom died of breast cancer, after years of suffering and mutilation. We know so much more than we did then, in the dark ages. Keep putting the word out. You are my SHE-ro!

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  14. @ Suzy - I'm sorry about your mom. We have come a long way since then. The treatments are better, the survival rates higher. Maybe in our lifetime we'll find a cure!

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  15. Hey Elizabeth, I just had my mammogram last month. And everything went well, as I'm sure that your next tests will. I'm sending mega positive thoughts your way. Big gentle hugs.

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  16. My mom went through that so i'm always checking too - hope everything is okay!! :)

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  17. my husband felt the same way about my boobs when i was nursing. he was like, wow, that is so cool. and i wrote a post just like this a few months ago. without the mammogram (sorry about that, by the way. i'll be sending you good vibes).

    *met you on twitter a few minutes ago, in case you were wondering who the hell i am. lol.*

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  18. aaaand here's the link :)
    http://www.depressionsandconfessions.com/2010/03/fun-bags/

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  19. I think it's fantastic that you are blogging about this subject...I don't think that women take it as serious as they should. I come from a family of "lumpy" women...my mom and both of my sisters (and me) have all had mamograms before the age of 40 due to cysts. Thankfully, all have been ok.
    Sending prayers and good thoughts your way!

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  20. Nice post...positive energy for you and about the saggy thing...thats what they are supposed to do...part of our problems revolve around the idea that we try too hard to be perfect..36/24/36 doesn't exist and real women age with grace and dignity enjoying every place in their life...not trying to look 20 when they aren't.

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  21. Sending good thoughts your way and hoping everything turns out alright!!

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  22. @ Kathy - Thank you!

    @ Ericka - I assume your mom came through it OK? I'm sure people with personal experience are very vigilant about checking.

    @ Alexis - Hi! Yes, I remember you. ;) Glad to know your man was also in awe of your body. I am anxious to read your post. I'll check it out now...

    @ Natalie - We do have trouble with this subject don't we? We shouldn't!

    @ Jana - I believe in growing old gracefully. I'm just not ready to embrace saggy boobs at the ripe young age of 41. Sorry!

    @ Mommyologist - Thank you very much. I'll keep everyone posted.

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  23. Thinking lots of positive thoughts for you! I hope everything turns out OK.

    Tawna

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  24. @ Tawna - How did I know this particular post would get your attention? ;) Thanks, hon!

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  25. I was 22 when they found a lump in my breast & I had to have a biopsy & all kinds of fun stuff done, but it ended up being nothing. But ever since then I've been very aware of what was going on with them! Then I got mastitis after nursing for 4 weeks & that was the opposite of fun. My breasts also seem to be the main place on my body that decided to get really bad stretch marks since pregnancy. So I also have been breast obsessed to a certain extent!

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  26. @ Cameron - Wow! How scary that must have been going through that at such a young age. Glad everything worked out.

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  27. I hope everything is ok! My mom just went through this too. Hers turned out to be just benign cysts and she is in her 40's. Sending lots of positive vibes and prayers you way!

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  28. Thinking of you!!! Please let us know how it goes!

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  29. @ Stacey - Thank you! I'll keep everyone posted.

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