Friday, August 15, 2008

My lovely lady lumps

"Your breasts are really lumpy and fibrous." The health care provider stared down her nose at me, waiting for a response.

"Um...... Thank you?" I tentatively offered.

"No!" She snapped. "That's a bad thing! You need to do monthly self-exams and really get to know your breasts. You need to learn what lumps are there now so that you'll know if you get a new lump."

Monthly self-exams? The mere acreage involved made that a daunting prospect. But on top of that I had to get to know my lumps? How in the hell was I supposed to tell the difference between a bad lump and a plain old "no really, my boobs are supposed to look like that" lump? Rather than question the good doctor I just promised to do monthly self-exams like a good, fibrous girl.

The doctor smiled. "Good." She said. "Now put your shirt back on. There's no reason to strip before getting a flu shot."

Recently there has been some controversy about how effective self-exams really are preventing deaths from breast cancer. When I first heard this I was pleased. Maybe it meant I could stop doing them! But then I researched a little more and discovered that the results of the study aren't all that clear. I hope that anyone who considers not doing self-exams because of this study really takes the time to research it.

I still do self-exams but I don't do them on a monthly basis. I never have. I am a chronic putter-offer and that's just one more thing that gets added to the "eh, I'll do it later" list. At this point, if nothing else, I need to reacquaint myself with my breasts. Two pregnancies, a year plus of nursing and four weeks of pumping have changed the landscape of my breasts. (It's also made them migrate a lot closer to my knees but that's neither relevant nor something anyone needs to know.) I need to get to know them and their lumpy ways again so that even if I don't do monthly exams I'll still be able to spot something really unusual or different.

So what about you? Do you do monthly self-exams? Do you think you should do them but somehow never get around to it? Do you think it's a total waste of time? Am I the only one with fibrous breasts? Don't I look cute in manga form?


Kate said...

I have lumpy breasts, too. I have to get regular exams. I was sort of casual about it, but then my cousin was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 33. Now I take it all a little more seriously.

Meredith~Sebastian~Milo said...

Oh the wonders of having lumpy lady lumps!! I can identify and, in addition, I was told mine are from drinking too much caffine! So I will embrace my lumpiness, drink my coffee, and feel myself up on a regular basis!:)

Jen said...

You're not alone... I feel boobs every day and some feel like bags of rocks.

And even though I feel like I should, I don't check mine monthly. I do it when I happen to be naked and thinking about my boobs. Which isn't usually all that often.

Mandy said...

I know I should check monthly but never manage to do it monthly. I had lumps in my armpits and wanted a mammogram and the clinic refused to do one because I was only 22 at the time, and it irritated the crapola out of me!

Barbara said...

Ok Kate just scared the crap out of me... well not literally... I have the same problem and understand the acreage comment, my great aunt died of breast cancer and I know I should do monthly exams, but I ask the same question, how the heck am I supposed to be able to tell a lump that's there now from a new one... but breast cancer at 33 when I turn 34 tomorrow is enough to scare me.

Alison Wonderland said...

I don't do them. I know, I know I should. I don't intentionally not do them I just don't really think about it.

Charming Driver said...

I half ass attempt the self exam but it always turns into, ''wait. wait. okay, do I feel the same thing on the other one? if it's a set, then it's okay, right? no? FUCK!'' so, whatever. I get em felt up and squashed every 6-8 months anyway because I had a (benign) cyst one thousand years ago.

Manager Mom said...

Heeeelllllooooo, Breasts! Let's take a vacation together. I'll buy us two pickets to Tittsburgh.

Yep, I'm a lumpster, with a mother AND and aunt that are both breast cancer survivors.

Luckily the girls are so tiny, it takes all of 3 seconds to give them their monthly squeezins.

StickyKeys said...

I never thought of checking my own boobs as a chore. I mean, you do feel them up in the shower when you're soaping up don't you? Maybe I'm just a horn dog, but I get em nice and soapy and do a daily once over to make sure everything is in tact.

I think it's subconscious now because my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in both breasts only two years apart. I've seen the war zone so it seems like I'm feeling myself up more than I'm brushing my teeth! :)

Jen said...

kate - Oh my gosh, 33? That's young! No wonder you take it seriously.

meredith - Too much caffine? I've never heard that. I bet that has something to do with my current state of lumpiness. I just can't go without my Wild Cherry Diet Pepsi.

jen - Hey everyone! Did I mention my friend Jen is a professional lesbian? ;)

mandy - Scary! What did the lumps turn out to be?

barbara - Cancer (or all kinds) runs in my family so I know I should be better about checking but I'm not. Maybe we should remind each other!

alison - I'm the same way. We should both get one of those water proof reminder cards that hangs in the shower. Although I would probably still never do it.

charming driver - Having D manhandle you every 6-8 months isn't going to cut it hon. You can do better than that! ;)

manager mom - Care to switch duties for month or two? I seriously think I would do it more often if it didn't take so flipping long. Your three minutes is my 2 and a half hours. Kinda.

stickeykeys - Now let's not blame your mother's cancer for you feeling yourself up in the shower. I KNOW YOU! Seriously though, I can see how that would make you really aware and cautious.

Mandy said...

Actually I never got a diagnosis on the lumps (they were quarter sized), I went in to the doctor but the only advice the nurse practioner had was to try not shaving my armpits for a few months (EWW GROSS) I continued shaving as always and they eventually went away, the best I can figure is maybe a touch of mastitis?
I believe if someone requests a mammogram, you should get one regardless of age!

Laggin said...

Eh, not as good as I should be since my mom is a two-time breast cancer survivor AND I had a lumpectomy at 22 (totally benign). But I try to remember when I'm the the shower.

L said...

I tried to do the SBE but I just got confused.. so basically no I don't do it...

Louise said...

erm i not totaly sure wot im meant to be checkin for?