Oswald was the original PITB ( Pain in the boob). He showed up one day during a breast exam in my doctor's office. She was poking around and said, "Did you notice this on your last self exam?"
I tried to look innocent but failed miserably, " umm no?"
"Ah... " She said looking like I had taken the last oreo cookie in the package. "You aren't doing your exams, are you?"
I looked at the ceiling trying to think of an excuse. "Not every month, I guess."
"Well, feel here." And she took my hand and pushed my fingers deep into my left breast. "That's what you would be looking for if you were doing the exams. We need to get that looked at."
So I spent the next two weeks wondering if I was going to lose my hair, have to have major surgery and promising the Powers That Be that if I was OK, I would do my breast exams every month.
As it turned, Oswald was just a cyst and faded away in no time, never to be discussed again. And so did my resolve to do my monthly exams.
So when I found a lump on my right breast (April 31, 2013) I called the doc up and told her about it.
"Come on in. We'll take a look," she said. So I did.
May 2, 2013 -- As I lay back on the exam table gazing at the poster of a kitten sitting among a bed of flowers, I waited for her analysis. I was more worried about what I was going to cook for dinner. After all, Oswald, the original PIDB was just a cyst. Why would I expect this to be any different?
"I think it's probably another cyst," she announced, after a rather thorough poking of my boobs. "But lets send you down for another mammogram and an ultrasound just to be sure.
Fine, I thought. Good excuse to hit the art supply store. Who can resit a little creative retail therapy on the way home from the doctor. Right?
So on the day of the appointment (May 14,2013), I told the Man of My Heart (MMH) that there was no reason to worry. We were just double checking and that I'd be back soon. Then I prepared myself for some serious art supply shopping, forty percent off coupon qued up on my cell phone. Just a short smash and slime session and I was off to buy some new inks and fun stuff.
No worries as I changed into the hospital gown. Nor was I concerned as I chatted with the mammo technician while she smashed my left boob into the machine. Nada! Just like I knew there would be. No evidence of Oswald anywhere.
NEXT!! On to the right boob. Smash... don't breathe ... Whirrrrr.... Wait.....
"What is that on the screen? " I asked looking at a very white spot that was staring at me through the protective shield.
"Umm, I'll let the ultrasound tech know you are ready, Ms. Ferguson. Stay right here," she said as she released my boob from the vice. "It should only take a moment."
It seemed like forever as I sat there looking at the rack of brochures on breast cancer and wondering what in the world was happening. I didn't have breast cancer. So why was that... that thing... showing up on my mammogram?
"Alright, this way, Ms. Ferguson," the ultrasound tech said as she opened the next door over. "If you would lie down on the table with your arm over your head we'll take a look at this lump. Now where do you feel it?" She asked as she made some notes on the screen.
"Right here," I said, poking at my right boob and feeling kind of surreal. "It's probably just a cyct, right? I had one on my left breast about a year ago."
"Did this one show up on your last mammogram?" she asked as she slid the wand thing across my skin. I never noticed how odd that really felt until now.
"Nope. Just 'little Oswald the cyct' on the other side. Nothing over here."
What the hell does hmmm mean!
I twisted to see the screen. What the hell? The thing on the screen didn't look like Oswald at all. It wasn't all smooth and round. This thing had bumps and valleys on the edges. And what were those colors showing up?
"What are those?" I asked as the blue and red lines showed up on the screen.
"Well, here is the mass that is in your right breast. It's not a cyst. We can see that," she said as she pointed to the oddly shaped thing on the screen. "See how it's not smooth? If it was a cyst, it would be all smooth. This isn't. And the colors are blood vessels that the mass has grown. They help feed it."
Feed it! My brain was screaming, but my mouth won't make words. Why did it need fed? It was just going to disappear with time and I was going shopping and forget about it.
"I'm going to go show these images to the doctor and we'll be back to talk to you in just a bit. If you would, please just stay here on the exam table and I'll be right back," she said as she scooted out the door.
What the hell!? This was supposed to just be a cyst and I was supposed to just go back to normal life. Why were we getting the doctor? Its just a cyst.
Wow... the clouds looked bright against the blue sky. Things just sort of ground to a halt. Are they telling me this is something? Are they saying what I think they are?
"Ms. Ferguson? Hi I'm doctor bla bla bla and bla bla bla..."
Things were kind of whirring around in my head but the words weren't making sense. She was talking, but she sounded like Charlie Brown's teacher. Wa wa wa wa... wont wa. Wont wa wa...
"Ms Ferguson? Are you OK?"
" Um, yeah... uh no... uh... could you tell me that again? I kind of zoned for a moment."
"Sure," she said with a way to nice smile. "What I'm seeing on your imaging is definitely not a cyst. It is a solid mass. And I'm really concerned that with the development of a vascular system and the overall unusual shape of the mass we very well might be looking at a cancer." She reached over and took my hand.
"I'm going to send you for a biopsy and then we can find out exactly what we are looking at. But I want to be honest with you. This does look like a cancer in my opinion. It has all the things we look for. But it is small in comparison and that is a good thing. So lets get you an appointment set up for a biopsy and well see where we go from there. Will you be staying here at the VA or will you be having the test done outside our system?"
"umm... uh... yeah... here I guess..."
"OK... well I'll get you an appointment set up and we'll get things started. And Ms. Ferguson,"
"Best of luck to you."
"umm uh.. wha... oh yeah, thanks..."
I didn't go shopping...
FEEL YOUR BOOBIES - It's DAMN important!!! Do it! Do it now!
feelyourboobies.com will show you how! They will even send you reminders!