Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Keeping abreast of things

Seven years ago, I found a mysterious lump in my right breast, one that kept appearing and reappearing. The doctor zipped me off to have a mammogram which found nothing, and this apparently qualified me for the dubious pleasure of having more. I've had the experience of three mammograms so far. They're not exactly fun (squishing each boob in a sort of vise twice from different angles, for the uninitiated), but there are worse things.

This year, they've introduced a new wrinkle to the process at the breast screening centre here in Hades. Now, we're submitted to a very long, very thorough manual examination after the squishing. It involves sitting up, lying down, lying on one's side, raising arms, hands behind heads, left-turn signal elbows, etc. etc. etc., while being, not exactly pummeled, but being felt up in a very clinical way. For me it requires careful breathing to keep my reflexes under control, but on a discomfort level, it's somewhere between having one's teeth cleaned and having ultrasound on one's gall bladder.

The nurse was nearly finished. She had to be nearly finished; this had been going on for several interminable minutes. My eyes were shut in self-defense; I was, after all, lying topless with a women kneading my mammaries which is not an erotic situation but a rather awkward and intimate one. I did peek into her concentrating-like-a-concert-pianist face as I noticed her fingers kept returning to my left breast. She'd carefully prod the right breast in the corresponding area, then check the left, her movements slowing down.

Oh crud.

She had me feel for myself. It took a few seconds, but there it was, a hard knobble about the size, as she put it, "of a ball-bearing". I've kept going back to it over the past couple of days. Now that I know where it is, I wonder how I missed it.

Oh well. That's why they have screening clinics, don't they? I keep thinking of that oft-repeated slogan: The only thing worse than finding a lump in your breast is not finding it. Sometimes, that even makes me feel better. Most of the time, not so much.

To put this into perspective: Two of my friends have died of breast cancer. Both had family histories of aggressive cancers. I do not. My mother, aunt, and their cousins all went through a decade or so when they were finding benign lumps on a regular basis. My great-aunt did get breast cancer --- and died of old age years later.

All the same, Merry Bloody Christmas. I should be hearing from my doctor in a few days.


ptooie said...

oh dear.
As I work in a maintenance hangar, I am familiar with a wide variety of bearing sizes.
I do hope yours is a small one.
I'll be thinking of you!

Persephone said...

Thanks, ptooie! It's small-pea-sized, if that helps...

Jane Henry said...

Oh shoot, Persephone, that's so crap. Fingers crossed it is nothing to worry about. Mostly they aren't and family history seems to be on your side. Having had my first experience of a mammogram recently I was wincing in sympathy. Hope everything works outxxx

Lisa Rullsenberg said...

Thinking of you. Hope that all goes well with the doctor. As careful as we may try to be being observant of our bodies, sometimes the careful pummelling is what it takes to notice the unusual. take care. xx

VioletSky said...

I don't supposed many of us pummell our breasts in quite the same way as that nurse did...
still, oh sh*t.
Am thinking of you.

chrissie_allen said...

Thinking of you Persephone.
Best wishes.

JoeinVegas said...

Yes, worse things than the exam itself. Hope it works out fine - most are non malignant but even a needlie biopsy isn't pleasant.