Saturday, February 12, 2011
Flashback, 4 months ago...
I am 34 years old, generally healthy, breastfeeding mother of a two year old boy.
I felt a bit of a lump on my right breast. It's a little prominent because I can feel it by just accidentally swiping my hand on the side of my breast.
I have felt some lumps in my breasts before. Ever since I started breastfeeding, my breasts have sometimes felt lumpy because of milk engorgement. Usually, when I get plugged milk ducts, I would just apply alternating hot and cold compresses, use the breast pump or let my baby breastfeed more on that side of the breast. This kind of lump, when it is plugged, is usually painful. It also feels warm to touch. You can also see tiny white spots on your nipple.
This time around, the lump I felt was hard and it doesn't seem to be moving inside. I didn't think of it any more than breastfeeding related but I still called my doctor and scheduled an appointment.
They were quick to accommodate me. I was seen within two days. During the clinical breast exam, the doctor felt that the lump was about 2cm. She asked about my family history and I told her that I have two maternal aunts who succumbed to breast cancer.
I've had a mammogram the year before, in 2009 but because my breasts were very dense, they did not find any abnormalities thus it was negative. The doctor was actually surprised that I have had a baseline mammogram at my age. I said, my OB-Gyn told me to get one after 6 months post-partum because I have a strong family history of breast cancer.
I cannot get a mammogram again this time because I was still breastfeeding. So the doctor suggested that I get an ultrasound because it can pick up images even with dense breasts. But she also said that she would recommend waiting about 2-3 months before getting the ultrasound, hoping that if it's milk related, the lump will just clear itself. From what she said, getting the ultrasound was more to ease my mind that it's nothing more that just milk.
So I waited for an ultrasound referral.
I didn't want to wait for another month anymore. I had to go to the doctors clinic to proactively ask for a referral. I told them even if I don't have an insurance, I'll find a way to be able to pay for the ultrasound. I felt that the lump was getting bigger.
After getting the referral, I got an ultrasound appointment with Westchester Imaging Clinic which we will pay $220 from our own pocket. However, a couple of days after, the breast cancer clinic at Harbor-UCLA finally called me for an appointment on December 21, 2010. Finally! It was a low-cost clinic, so I can probably afford this one better.
Surprisingly, in the same week, I was approved for a self-pay private insurance I have applied for a few months ago. I didn't even think I would need it this quick. Maybe it was meant to happen.
This is my first visit to the breast cancer clinic. After hours of waiting, I will finally get my mind at ease and have that ultrasound done.
But no. The doctor came in, gave me a clinical breast exam and told me to just massage the area and do hot compresses. He also said he found another lump in the middle of the same breast, near the arreola or nipple.
He said he will go ahead and schedule the ultrasound for NEXT MONTH, February 4. And if the lumps don't subside, they might do a biopsy. He said he thinks it is GALACTOCELE (According to Breast Diagnostic Center, www.breastdiagnostic.com: it is a milk cyst, clogged milk duct, usually associated with childbirth, in both breast feeding and non-breast feeding mothers). And that the other lump is just a cyst.
I was a bit upset because I have to wait for another month and a week to clear my mind what this lump is all about. But he looked like he knew what it was.
So we will wait. Thank God, Christmas, my favorite holiday, was coming up, and my sister was to visit. I was pleasantly distracted.
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