It was sometime late last year that I found out about the lump in my breast. I was in the shower, doing my usual routine and when I was lathering the soap, I felt something odd against my chest. Sure enough, upon further inspection, I could just make out a rounded, moveable shape sitting close to the surface of my right breast.
At the time of my discovery, I didn’t do anything. I’m not sure why I didn’t act on it sooner but looking back, I think it was the fear and shock of finding a sizeable concerning lump in my breast at the tender age of 23 and some parts, denial.
About five years ago, my mother’s youngest sister had passed away from breast cancer. I loved my aunt very much and was very close to her. However, due to distance, we didn’t see each other regularly. Just like that - she was gone. I was never to see her again and the last time I ever saw her was 6 years prior to her passing. My parents also refused to let us see her when my sister and I video called because they didn’t our memory of her to be replaced with the shell of a person she became due to the disease.
It was early July this year when I had experienced a really bad bout of gastroenteritis. I was pretty desperate to see a doctor since it happened right in the middle of my working hours. I made haste and went to the nearest clinic. There, was a really lovely and easy-going lady doctor who I felt pretty comfortable with.
After addressing my main concerns, this led me to think: “hey why not casually bring up that lump you’ve had in your breast for a while.” I explained to my doctor how and when I found out about it and she explained that she will conduct a physical examination and gestured me to the examination bed.
My doctor made sure that I was relaxed and was very gentle throughout the entire process. There was nothing too uncomfortable about it besides the pressure she applied to thoroughly feel around for other lumps in my breast.
She spoke to me throughout the examination and even allowed me to try and feel for myself two other lumps that she found outside the one which I could already feel. They were a little harder to distinguish probably because they were so small and I was inexperienced.
After the physical examination, she confirmed that I would need further checks just to get an idea of the extent of the lumps. She scheduled a breast ultrasound within the following week and offered some words of comfort so as to not scare me.
Then came the ultrasound. Lying there on the cold bed with both my arms raised above my head and cold, wet gel was applied all over my chest - I was nervous.
It hadn’t occurred to me that this would be something I would have to go through at least at this stage in my life. As radiologist proceded, I was watching her every move on the monitor. She would move the scanner around my chest and collect measuring points for the lumps she found. She started with the first, the big one which I found myself. Then she moved on to the second, third, fourth… Altogether, they found 9 lumps in both my chest.
I was in a state of shock and denial. I got my results the following day and while I was assured that a majority of my lumps were simple cysts with some septation (tissue partitions). There were 3 which required immediate attention from a specialist.
It was also that same night when my whole world came crashing down. I called my mother to tell her about my results and she had some news to break to me too. She had been diagnosed with cancer (melanoma) but I’ll save that for another blog post.
Following the ultrasound, I had a very short visit with the specialist who really didn’t tell me much except that I needed further testing done. I was made to go for another ultrasound scan as well for a biopsy.
The procedure was a core needle biopsy. If you are curious to know what that entails, I’ve included a short video here.
Overall, the entire procedure was super quick although I will admit I did have a little bit of an anxiety attack probably because of the terrifying sound the device made when they took some 5 samples of tissue. The nurses were kind and understanding and they made sure to soothe me before the proceeded further.
After all that, I had to wait for my results. At this point, it would have been 2 months since my first doctor’s appointment and I was finally going to get my results.
I went for the appointment and I got the good news.It’s not cancer. To be honest, especially with things going on with my mum, there wasn’t time for me to dwell on my own medical issue. I guess intuition told me that it wasn’t cancer and if it was I feel that my body would have been able to signal to me in some way that I was going through something more foreboding.
In no way am I saying that your body will tell you if it’s cancer or not. Definitely, get checked. My mother’s case was the other side of the coin where she had cancer for a while and only started experiencing the awful effects when it truly took a large and physical form. Please, do get checked.
Do not take your health for granted.
Back to my results, I’m really happy that finally, to get a diagnosis. It is a Phyllodes Tumour. From my doctor’s explanation and what I read online, it is a type of tumour that can grow very quickly and turn malignant (cancerous). Hence, my doctor insisted that I remove the lump as soon as possible and I have been scheduled for a surgery on the 2nd of October. I am writing this post literally a day before I go under and by the time this blog post goes live, I will be over and done with the surgery.
My overall thoughts now are: I’m glad to get it removed. I’m glad I finally took action and gave it the attention it deserved because like most health issues, the longer you wait, the trickier treatment will become.
I would like to end this post addressing all you strong women and girls out there. I know you are strong, but do not neglect your regular check-ups. You may be young, independent and invincible, but sometimes diseases are silent killers that sneak up on your when you are not suspecting. I understand us women have the tendency to make excuses for the aches and pains we feel on a regular basis.
Sometimes it’s good to listen to this aches and pains. Really understand the source of the issues and tackle it. I truly believe that age is just a number after my experience. Before, I was so naive to think that something like this will only happen to a mature woman who’s had children etcetera…
I'm also very grateful to be working with other strong women who really care and are so understanding. They have been a great pillar of support throughout this entire time and it is through their words of encouragement that I keep up this fight and stay strong for my mother and family.
If anything, this whole experience has taught me to be more aware of my own body. From now on, I will have to go medical check-ups every 6 months to assess the other suspicious lumps. I now also understand the importance of medical intervention. I guess it’s about taking care of yourself so that your family don’t need to worry because between my mother’s condition and mine, I understand, I see and I feel the worry, the sadness, and above all helplessness that your family members go through where health is concerned.
If you have gotten to this point of the post, I thank you very much for you to have stayed through my journey. I hope to inspire you to take action with your own health and also encourage the other women in your life to do the same this month.
Take a stand in one of the leading causes of death of women in Singapore and join the fight against breast cancer. In support of breast cancer awareness month, you can do your part by participating in the breast cancer foundation’s pink ribbon campaign.
Get yourself a pink ribbon pin and join the fight:http://pinkribbonsingapore.org/get-a-ribbon/
If you need medical attention, please seek advice from your doctor.
Wishing you a healthy and happy month ahead!
Written by Luxmee Sabapathy
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