I have a lump. Talk me off the ceiling. (Girly TMI, I'm sure.)

A little background: my Mom died a little over a year ago from an extremely rare form of breast cancer. She was 61. I’m 42. Mom’s cancer was rare, as I said, but when it does occur, it almost always begins in the left breast, for some weird reason.

I discovered a lump in my left breast last night. Now… I had a baseline mammogram a while ago, and all was well. And, I know that the definition of “persistent lump” is one that continues to be palpable three to five days after the end of a menstrual period and that lumpiness and swelling and all kinds of weird anomalies can occur DURING a period… which is where I am, as it happens. So until my period is over for a few days, I am not going to call my doctor, because the reason they don’t DO breast exams during a period is that, well, all kinds of weird things can occur during a period. I know this.

Knowing this did not prevent my eyeballs from popping out of my head on stalks when I discovered a lump in my left breast. Frankly, I am freaking out. The fact that it’s probably four days 'til the end of my period and therefore seven to ten days until I can really check again means that I have approximately a week and a half in which to scare the living shit out of myself with all kinds of “what ifs.”

So if you-all could kindly talk me off the ceiling and reassure me that it probably is NOTHING, I’d appreciate it. And if you could manage to remind me of this somewhat regularly in the next ten days, I’d be very grateful.

I have to admit - I’m scared.

It’s probably nothing. Seriously.

A few years ago I had a mass in my left ovary. I was scared, too. Though I had no sign of a marker in my blood work, they wouldn’t know for sure until surgery and pathology. During those couple of weeks, so many of my friends and family called me, visited me, sent flowers, and really showed how much I am loved. It was an experience. You will get through this no matter what it is with your own family and friends that, I’m sure, love you very much. And us, too.

My own thing turned out to be a dermoid cyst, even consisting of teeth and hair- ew! They actually could have figured this out without surgery- just put a bag of ice on the lower abdomen and they would’ve heard the teeth chattering! Har!
But my bad jokes aside, it’ll be okay. I promise.

When my mom was a lot younger – about twenty years ago – she found a lump in one of her breasts. It was very, very scary for her: At the time, my siblings and I were all under the age of thirteen, so she had four kids to think about. She went to our GP, and he ran a battery of tests.

It was a cyst. The doctor drained it, it went away, and the problem has never come up again.

A similar thing happened to a girl I know, when she was about twenty. Her boyfriend found a lump on her breast, and she ended up having surgery to have it removed. It was a non-cancerous tumor. She now has a scar on her chest that she tells gullible people is from a barfight – a biker tried to stab her in the heart, but failed. So, in the end, it turned into a story to tell at parties.

I had a lump on my nut once. Turned out to be a temporary blockage of the plumbing, which went away after some antibiotics. I was definitely worried until I saw the doctor though, especially because I knew a guy who had to get one of his removed.

C’mon hon, you know you’ve got excellent odds that this will just end up being a funny story one day and not the start of something big and scary.

Hang on in there, pour yourself a nice glass of wine and know that we’re thinking good thoughts for you.

I’m not sure what I have to say that will be reassuring, except to share one more anecdote of lump found and no problem. It was a huge lump (well, I have pretty huge breasts) in my right breast which was a fluid filled cyst. They didn’t drain it, for some reason, just left it alone and I think I had it for more than a year until one day it just wasn’t there anymore. I guess sometimes they pop on their own and the body just reabsorbs the liquid that was inside. It didn’t even hurt.

Obviously, you have good reason to follow up on this and get it checked out if it’s still there after your menstrual period. So did I - I’ve had three cases of breast cancer in the immediate family. But even those of us with a family history can still get the harmless lumps and bumps that happen inside lumpy bumpy breast tissue.

Don’t freak out yet. There’s plenty of time for that later if required.

My own mother died of breast cancer, as did my Dad’s mom, not great history. My doctor, as a result, sent me for my first Mammo at 40+yrs instead of waiting until I was 50, after finding a lump. No biggie, right?

A little nervous, but off I go. They do the mammo, have me wait in the hall while they look to see if the pictures are clear and all. Send me back in for more pictures. No biggy, sometimes the picture is not quite clear, they reassure me. Again I sit in the hall.

Next, they come and say they’d like me to go directly over to the ultrasound suite, they’ll squeeze me in right now, nothing to be worried about, just double checking, they assure me. I’m trying not to freak out, what do I know, it’s my first mammo after all, maybe this happens all the time to lots of people.

Once in the ultrasound suite, they take a lot of photos, say very little, then leave the room and return with 2 doctors. 2 doctors. Now I understand that the tech isn’t supposed to tell you anything. They are all making eye contact and nodding to each other but saying nothing to me. They leave the room to discuss. Okay, now I am freaking just a tad.

And it’s back out to wait in the hall.

Next they come with a slip of paper with a time for a biopsy scheduled. They have decided to go ahead and schedule it without contacting my doctor as they are certain she will want it done!

Yikes, I went in for a regular old mammo, and came out having had that, an ultrasound, with an appointment for a biopsy. I was stunned a little bit, I have to say.

I was back 2 days later for the biopsy, and spent a wretched couple of weeks awaiting the results, trying my level best not to freak out.

But in the end, it was nothing to worry about. And my doctor told me I could look forward to this repeating itself because of the nature of my breast tissue. I felt a fool for all the worrying I did during those two weeks.

In the years since then I have had a mammo every year and often have to get more pictures or follow up ultrasound or biopsy. I’ve learned that I can control the freaking out.

Until there is cause to freak out don’t, you have the power, don’t be afraid to use it.

And good luck to you.

My mom found a lump too, one day, and we had a very scary few days until we discovered it was benign and they easily removed it. I was young, so I don’t remember a lot, but I think they didn’t even have to do surgery.

Chances are you’ll laugh about this. hugs And Alice, you made me laugh.

You probably just have cysts, like I do. But good for you for taking it seriously.

I know you can’t 100% keep yourself from thinking about it, but remind yourself that at this point, you can’t do anything about it, it is what it is, and obsessively worrying about it will only make you emotionally worse, it cannot make the situation any better. Try to remember what you can control and what you can’t, and concentrate on what you can. “What if” is a complete waste of energy and time, because you don’t know and you can’t change it, whatever it is.

Do things that make you feel in control: Balance your checkbook, clean your house, organize your closet.

Do things that make you feel physically better and/or wear you out: Work out, go for walks, throw yourself into some hardcore yard work, home improvement, or cleaning.

Do things that distract you: Read a book, find a new recipe to try out (one that will take all afternoon to do), do a craft project.

Value yourself and support yourself spiritually: Meditate. Pray, not necessarily for health (it is what it is at this point) but for strength. Remind yourself of your many strengths and all the people who love and support you. Recognize that if it is something – and it probably isn’t – you will face that challenge when it comes and conquer it.

If you have to spend time thinking about it (and you will): Think about it rationally and positively. It really probably is nothing, you know. Chances are wildly in favor of it being nothing, so there’s no need to tie yourself in knots at this point. Right?

Best of luck.

Jodi - you are a very smart lady. In fact, you sound like me, when I’m not the one having a crisis :slight_smile:

I’m working on staying reasonable and not borrowing trouble. Thanks for all the reassuring-ness, everyone.


I’ve been there. Twice. Except I had the full fiesta, complete with biopsy. In both cases, it was nothing. And my mom is a breast cancer survivor who is currently facing chemo for her second occurrence, after 23 years. So I’m not saying I don’t think I will get breast cancer; on a bad day, it seems like a foregone conclusion. But I don’t have it today. And, today, neither do you. :slight_smile:

Another one here whose Mom’s lumps (two, consecutively) turned out to be cysts brought on by 20 years of HRT.

OTOH…I hate to be the ghost at the feast, but you are going to have it biopsied, aren’t you? Because I have a friend who found a fast-growing lump in January (not there one week, the size of a hazelnut the next week–she had a partial mastectomy in the 1970s so it counts as a recurrence) who is now undergoing her third round of surgery this occurence, with ongoing chemo.

So do go the full fiesta, with the biopsy, PITA though it may be.

And, personally, if it was me…given the family history of breast cancer, and how fast my friend’s lump moved in, I wouldn’t wait 10 days; I’d be down there at the doctor’s office this afternoon demanding to be let in. But then I tend to be a worrywart all the time anyway. So YMMV.

My doctor is wonderful, and if I called him right now he would see me in ten minutes. However, the fact that I am currently having my period means that they won’t even bother to do a check - lumps are common enough during periods that they WILL tell me to go back home and come back next week, if the lump is still there when my period has been gone for three to five days. Being that I have scared myself but good, though, I will go in for a check next week regardless of whether I can still feel the lump.

Not infrequently, the doctor can tell just by imaging the lump that it does not present an issue. For example, most liquid-filled cysts are observable on a mammogram and most of the time they don’t call for a biopsy.

There’s no point in getting a biopsy if you don’t need one. “Biopsy” is like Step 5; LoW is on Step 1.

lump update

I have been to the doctor, I have been squished in every direction, poked, prodded and ultrasounded. The verdict is: two cysts, of the totally harmless variety. WHEW They will probably reabsorb; if not, and if they get bigger, or cause me pain, or more of them pop up, I can get them aspirated. My breasts are lumpy, but healthy. Thank you all so much for your moral support, good vibes and positive thinking. Unless I get run over by a bus, y’all are stuck with me for awhile yet.

Here comes the PSA part: Nearly 80% of lumps found in the breast are harmless - cysts, fibroids, or some other benign abnormality. However - umpty-bunches of women are still diagnosed with breast cancer every year. There’s nothing special about me that guarantees I won’t be one of them someday… you neither. So feel yourself up once a month, and get yourself professionally squooshed every year after you turn 40 - sooner if you have risk factors.

Here’s to happy hooters!

Even if they are lumpy. :smiley:

Glad to hear good news.

Yay! I’ve never been so happy to have cysty boobs in common! Thanks for the update - I was wonderin’, but didn’t want to be nosy and ask.

Glad you have good news, hope the cysts behave themselves. Thanks for the PSA.

Hey there lumpyboob sister-friend. :slight_smile: mine are fibroadenomas… and they gave me a hell of a scare (because they are solid they had to be biopsied – I got the results thanksgiving day 2001). So glad to hear the news was good.