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Sunday, October 10, 2010

Save the Tatas - My Story

Feel your boobs. Seriously, feel them. Notice anything?

I didn't, but my doctor did. Ironic, huh?

 October is breast cancer awareness month. You start seeing the Yoplait containers with the pink lids, Race for the Cure sign-ups are everywhere and people start encouraging you to "think pink". I have always been aware of breast cancer (I ran an awareness campaign on it in college) and the relative importance of knowing what your boobies feel like so that you know what is normal for you. So imagine my surprise years ago during residency when I went for a long overdue check up with my physician and during the exam she asked me, "how long have you had this lump in your right breast?"

Cue dead silence and panic.

Turns out I had a cherry tomato-sized lump that I hadn't noticed. I got sent for an ultrasound and mammogram and they recommended a needle biopsy. It would give me a likely diagnosis. My personal hesitation to getting a needle biopsy was that you could get a portion that looked weird on pathology (I know too much medicine) and then have to go in again anyway for a lumpectomy. I was like, "um, no... cut the sucker out!"

I got scheduled for surgery, took a few days off work and went in. Worst part of surgery experience: not being able to wear any underwear. Best part: already knowing my anesthesiologist (I had worked with her in med school) and her giving me the fastest nap of my life (helloooo, Propofol!). 

I was fortunate that the lump that was found was completely benign and with a lumpectomy would likely never recur. It does increase my chances slightly for getting breast cancer in the future, so you know I will be all over that mammogram machine like white on rice.

Save a life, feel your boobs. FWIW, self breast exams have not been shown to improve outcome, but they do make you familiar with your consistency of breast tissue so that you know what is normal and what isn't. Better yet, go to your doctor and get age appropriate screenings.

Stay tuned for a boobie (as my daughter calls them) related giveaway this week!

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