This has been a concern for the last two years. I didn’t want to make a mountain out of a molehill until I knew for sure whether or not this was serious. Not to mention, at that particular point in time I was deep in depression and actually entertained the thought of death and welcomed it.
I thought to myself, yay it won’t be by my own hand! Sorry, I know that’s quite dark. But that was my head space while dealing with postpartum depression.
So here’s the scoop on what went down in these past two years while doctors tested me for breast cancer.
It was about two weeks after giving birth to Izabella. I was in that season where my milk supply was a lot more than my newborn needed. When my first daughter Esperanza was born, I panicked in this season. My boobs hurt so bad and I was frantically searching for any method of pain relief that was safe for my baby.
This time around with Bella, I just wanted to ignore my aching boobs. I have a pretty good pain threshold. So I would just think to myself that, this is normal and it will be over soon.
I wouldn’t pump to get the excessive amount of milk out. I would just let it sit there till Izabella was hungry. That was when there was this sudden ache in one spot of my right boob that wouldn’t go away.
When I touched it, there was infact a lump. I wasn’t ready to panic just yet. I knew of times milk would build up in milk ducts. So in an effort to not get Mastitis, I did every method of getting that supposed milk build up out.
I used my electric toothbrush to massage it. I pumped excessively. I left a hot cloth on it for hours. But it wouldn’t go away. And along with it was this annoying pinching sensation where it sat. Not unbearable. But a constant reminder something could be wrong.
I finally looked up the symptoms of breast cancer and found that I actually didn’t show any obvious symptoms. However there were some women who felt the same until diagnosed.
I made a mental note to mention it to my doctor on our next family visit. But mom-brain made me forget for months. Until that pinching sensation finally frustrated me enough that I set an alarm on my phone and made an appointment with my doctor solely in regards to that lump. And would you believe I still sat there in the office discussing everything but that lump till my doctor was about to leave?
Her response though was, “that’s likely nothing. Most women have this during postpartum. So we’ll keep an eye on it. But there’s no need to panic.”
I felt really good about this response. A few weeks later though, I suddenly got an unusual cold that included the worst throat pain. I rushed to the nearest walk-in clinic convinced I had Mastitis.
The doctor I saw was male, (you’ll understand why this is an important factor in a minute). After checking me for any other kind of strep-throat or infection I mentioned to him that I’m almost certain it could be Mastitis because of the lump.
Upon hearing this news there was panic in his eyes. “How long have you had this?”. At this point it would have been four months. This adorable and overly concerned doctor went into action mode and hastily booked me in to the Breast Health Clinic.
I went numb by his reaction. Could it be possible that I actually have breast cancer? I walked home after my appointment deep in thought about death. My grandmother died of cancer. My mom said she and her siblings watched her literally deteriorate before their eyes as it spread throughout her body. Was I about to go down the same road- ZING!
Suddenly there was sharp searing pain shooting through my ankle and up my leg. I collapsed on the ground to then see a wasp flutter away ever so gracefully 😑
I literally cried out to Jesus. And a lovely lady walked right past me and looked at me like I was mad. I suddenly understood the Good Samaritan Story had much merit to reality.
It was like that wasp popped my balloon of negative thoughts. It brought me back to the present. And thank God my cousin who lived close by brought me home in her vehicle.
I later realized that my thought life could determine how my story ended. Especially whether or not I let this drive me deeper into depression.
Weeks later I had an ultrasound done to measure the lump and determine if it is infact milk or not. It wasn’t milk. My doctor assured me that this could be a benign cyst. So I ought not panic. However I was required to get a biopsy done should it grow in size… and sure enough it did 🙄
Doctors wanted to cut into my boob, stick an itty bitty tube in and suck out a piece of this lump to examine it and determine if it is cancerous in anyway.
Before going in for the biopsy, I had to pump as much as possible because I didn’t want to projectile on the poor doc. That biopsy was not fun. However it was literally two seconds of my life.
The month long infection that came afterwards put those two seconds in perspective. Turns out if you get a biopsy while breastfeeding, it’s very likely to have milk build up under the incision and of course that will curdle… TMI?
Anyone a fan of the television series Dr. Pimple Popper? My mom loves it. Which is quite disturbing 🤢
But basically my boob developed what looked like a massive zit under the biopsy incision. It even had that little white spot at the top.
After having a look at this, my doctor’s eyes lit up and she went in with both thumbs ready to pinch. “Whoa!”, I protested while waving my arms in front of her. “Well the fluid has to come out”, she insisted. I assured her I could take care of this at home myself.
Ever heard of Old Faithful? Google it and the pictures say it all! It was gushing and not just for a few seconds or even a couple minutes. It was going for an hour. I even called my mom in excitement to show her my cool new trick lol. Look what I can do mom!
Like I said, she loves watching Dr. Pimple Popper. A part of me thinks a YouTube video of that would have gone viral. Looks like I missed out on making millions. Antibiotics took the infection away and I was back to my normal. Normal being a constant punching sensation under this lump.
A few days later I received the results of the biopsy. The most disappointing and unexpected news. Apparently what the doctors saw on the ultrasound in comparison to the sample tissue taken from my lump were not matching up. Whatever that means. They said another biopsy was needed.
I couldn’t stomach the thought of another painful incision on my boob and possible infection. I got on the phone with the doctor and begged to wait till I’ve stopped breastfeeding.
I figured that would be in another 6 months or so. Maybe the thought of weaning leading to a biopsy kept me attached to breastfeeding. Because my baby kept going. Even now I’m still trying to get her to stop though it’s her just snacking periodically.
A year past since my biopsy and I decided to live each day like it was my last just in case. Giving lots of hugs and kisses to my family. Refusing to allow negativity into my life. Finding every other method than punishment to have good behavior from my kids, (too far?)
The global pandemic of 2020 helped delay the biopsy even further. And when the time came that I finally got on the phone with the Breast Health Clinic, I begged them to another ultrasound to first see if a biopsy was in fact needed.
That was last week. And I’m so happy to report that the doctor confirmed the lump is infact benign and shrinking in size.
What an interesting last two years it has been! A television series that actually helped me a lot was the Netflix original series Alexa and Katie. A great television series that tells the story of teenagers dealing with cancer, depression and anxiety. It comforted me somehow.
Now I’m feeling more excited about life. All it took was a tense two years in fear of having cancer 😬 I’m praising God right now for keeping my thoughts positive and keeping me healthy.