Going pink…

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I have yet another health related anniversary in October. The month of the year I found a lump in my breast. Having never been a fan of pink you tend to notice when you get inundated with it in stores, on the internet, and everywhere you look every year in October. One morning last year at the end of October I was in the shower and thought I should do a self-exam since it was breast cancer awareness month. Bam, I felt something that wasn’t supposed to be there, about the size of a lima bean. My reaction kind of surprised me. I didn’t tell anyone, not even my husband. I found it on a Thursday and then I think I went into shock a little bit, or just tried to ignore the fact that something was there. Let’s face it, I was freaked out.

A couple days had passed and during my Saturday morning run with my neighbor, I mentioned “the lump”. Her reaction let me know I needed to snap out of my funk, slapped me from my disbelief that, yes this is really happening to you and you need to get this thing checked out. I went home and told my husband, and phoned my Mom and sister. There is no history of breast cancer in my family, which doesn’t exempt me from being the first to get it, but may have contributed to my reaction. We don’t have breast cancer in my family but we do have a history of cysts, and in the back of my mind this is what I presumed it to be, or was hoping it would be.

Not really knowing what to do I called my gynecologist first thing Monday morning and she had me come in an hour later to get it checked. She thought that yes, it felt like a cyst. Whew, I was somewhat relieved but knew I was in for the dreaded mammogram to make sure. Apparently cysts feel round and cancer is more rough and doesn’t move around like a cyst does. I got scheduled for my first mammogram that Thursday, since I was only 37 at the time and had never had one before. I was lucky to have my Mom go with me. I was a bundle of nerves, and having her there was very comforting. Having never had a mammogram I think I was even more nervous, if that’s possible. I have a problem with anxiety anyway, so add a cancer scare in and I’m pretty sure I should have requested some Xanex or something. Thankfully, everyone at the diagnostic center was really nice, and really quick with getting me a diagnosis by the end of the day. I also had a sonogram, which shows a good picture of what’s going on in there for diagnosis.

I was diagnosed with cysts. They are filled with fluid and I was given several options as to what to do. The first option was do nothing, and wait and see what happens. If the cyst grows, shrinks etc. The second option is have it drained, and the third have the cyst removed. I took the wait and see option. Though at my yearly appointment in February I discussed with my Dr. that I’d like to get it drained and went down that path.

Fast forward to this year I went in for my check-up mammogram. I will mention that my Dr. advised me to quit drinking caffeine as there is a possible link to causing cysts, though most of my internet browsing did not confirm this. I decided to give decaf life a try and last March I quit drinking coffee. I was willing to give it a year of no coffee to see if the cysts went away. My most recent sonogram confirmed that they are still there, just not to the degree that I can tell when I check. Although I still get caffeine from decaf coffee and green tea I’m not sure going caffeine free helped in the cyst department, or maybe it takes longer than 7 months to reverse the effects. I do feel a lot better not being a regular coffee drinker though. I have discovered my favorite coffee drink is decaf Cafe Americano at Starbucks. I still have a regular coffee every now and again. I still eat chocolate, and I use caffeine GU Energy gels when I run races but overall I backed off the coffee and I think it helped me to feel better in general.

The main purpose in writing this is that I’d like to raise awareness to other women out there who may be apprehensive about doing self-exams or getting mammograms. While not the most pleasant experience I ever had, getting a mammogram wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Age does not matter either. I felt that I was too young to really need a mammogram, but I’d rather keep an eye on things in case something worse shows up in the future. Wearing pink is now something I embrace. I’ve always hated the color pink, but now the color has taken on a different meaning. It’s more empowering to me now, special in a way, and I actually have some pink items in my closet too. I believe that taking care of yourself and your health is extremely important, and early detection is part of this. If you haven’t done a check in a while, give the ta-ta’s a little rub and pat yourself on the back for taking care of yourself!

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