Monday, October 17, 2011

"I'm Just Lumpy"

Today's post comes to me via email from a running co-worker in Montana. She's been a distance runner for much of her life, and is now works as an RN at a VA in Montana. We met at the coaching course that I took last spring. Here she shares a story that ties in with Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Ladies and gentlemen, please give a nice, warm "Accountability" welcome to Tova! Take it away, Tova...

I would like to start out with a disclaimer before I dive into my story.  Please be advised this is my own story I am sharing when I underwent “further evaluation” for a breast lump.  While it will be seemingly entertaining for you to read, please understand breast cancer affects several women and men and it is something I don’t mess with.  It is the most common cancer for women and is the second leading cause of cancer death for us too…over 40,000 women die yearly from it.

I had just turned the ripe old age of 30 and found myself rapidly falling apart.  You could say maybe I was going through a midlife crisis because my young adult life was over.  On the day of my birth, 30 years weighed heavily on my shoulders.  I had just started running again, wasn’t eating well, and at the time was stressed over the fact that my life flashing before my eyes.  I came down with a cold.  Looking the polar opposite of “the picture of health” I sat in my doctors office.  The nurse called me back and weighed me.  Awesome.  Let the humiliation begin.  She escorts me to a room, takes my vitals, asks me why I’m there.  Then leaves me to feel and look like death warmed over. 

I had thought I had an understanding with my doctor.  I don’t get in his way.  He doesn’t get in mine.  I tell him what is going on.  “I have a cold.  Maybe cough too.  I’ve had it for a few weeks-maybe six.  I’m training for a marathon and I can’t run ‘cause I’m having a hard time breathing.  What do you think about a Z-Pack and a rescue inhaler?”  His reply:  “Huh.  Well let’s take a listen to you.”  At this point I whine to him about not needing to…blah blah blah…and like a good doctor he tells me I have no choice and to get up on the table.  While he’s listening to my lungs he says, “When was your last breast exam?  Do you do self exams?”  Hmmm.  Not sure where he was going with this…I replied, “I’ve calved out four kids.  My last breast exam was the last time I had a baby.  A few years ago.  I’ve felt some lumps but I think their just fibrous.”  He removes his stethoscope from his ears, pauses for effect, then hands me a gown to put on and leaves the room.  Oh no…

After the mortifying experience of a breast exam filled with blushing, holding my breath, and gritting my teeth while I answered more of his questions, he suggests I have a mammogram.  Oh.  And he’ll give me the z-pack but I’m banned from running for 10 days to give my lungs a rest.  “A what?!?!?  I’m 30 years old!  I’m just lumpy!  And I can’t run?!  Who are you?!  The Grim Reaper?”  Chuckling at my obvious dismay, he tells me there are two areas that don’t “feel normal.”  While it could be nothing it could also be something.  And he needed to know for sure.  And he told me I needed to know. 
With a sickly feeling in my stomach I arrived at the hospital for my mammogram.  What was going to happen?  I may have had four kids but I have “little going on up top” if you catch my drift.  How were the jaws of life going to produce any discernable images of cancer when I had little to offer to the machine?  After much manipulation and stellar range of motion on my part, I felt as though any excess skin starting at my wrists was scraped up toward my breasts.  Excess skin under my chin was scraped down.  Concerned my nose would be included in the image because I didn’t realize EXACTLY what was considered breast tissue at this point, I relayed my concerns to the tech and nurse.   They were wonderful, got my humor, and assured me only my ears would be included in the films and not my nose.

I ended up having a normal mammogram.  During the whole experience I began to reflect on what I had done and what I still needed to do…as a mom, as a daughter, as a sister, as a wife, and as a nurse.  Scares like a lump, a bump, a bleed, or an abnormal lab value really put life in perspective for us.  This is good-the silver lining.  The normal mammogram for me was a get out of jail for free card.  The event wasn’t to be ignored-I considered it a wake-up call. 

Thank you for allowing me to share your story, Tova! And now, back to my regularly scheduled mindlessness.
Be Well,

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