I have a friend who found out she has a breast mass in her left breast. I recommended my doctor to her so she can have it checked but she was too afraid to do it. I know better than to push someone into doing something they’re not ready for. So I’m letting her take her time.
I understand her. No one told me what happens in a doctor’s office or what goes on during a breast ultrasound. If someone did, it would’ve helped ease the anxiety.
I first found out that I had a breast mass in 2003. I was 20 then. It was removed through surgery but I don’t think I ever went through an ultrasound. I would’ve remembered that experience. My current doctor said the mass should not have been taken out. It was benign after all.
My first ultrasound was in 2008, when I found out that the mass has come back. I don’t know why I never did a self breast exam since that surgery. Ironic that it took me 5 years to remember and when I found out that I have it again, I immediately set an appointment with a doctor. I knew how it important it was for me to get checked immediately. My grandmother died of breast cancer and my aunt is currently braving through the same disease.
During the checkup, the doctor confirmed that there was indeed a mass and that I need to get a breast ultrasound for her to be able to assess if it was something to be concerned about. I called up UST Hospital’s breast center to set an appointment. They had me answer medical-related stuff before they asked me to go in a room to change into a hospital gown that you put on like an apron.
Not knowing what would happen next really scared me. I was alone coz I didn’t want to bother anyone to come along with me.
The doctor asked me to lie down and remove the ‘apron’ and with something that looks like a big popsicle stick, she put ultrasound gel all-over my left breast. By this time my heart was pounding so loud that I think the radiologist can hear it.
The started a conversation to put me at ease. I didn’t even notice that she already laid the ultrasound thing until I started to feel a little uncomfortable. She moved the scanner from the outside perimeter to the middle of my breast like she was ironing it. It doesn’t hurt enough to make me teary-eyed, but enough for me to tense up and hold my breath. Overall, it’s tolerable compared to laser hair removal shots.
The whole thing lasted around 30 minutes. I think it’s a little bit longer than an average ultrasound session coz the doctor found 9 cysts, which, to be honest, was quite alarming. To find out there were 8 more was overwhelming.
The largest of the nine was about 2.8 cm big and the tiniest one was about 2mm in diameter.
After the doctor has seen the write up and the images. She said they were all considered “probable benign cysts” and that I can opt to leave them there unless they hurt to a point that it’s no longer bearable. Apparently, sharp pain on the cyst area is one of the indications that it’s probably benign.
I decided to just leave them alone and not undergo another surgery.
The doctor recommended breast ultrasound every 6 months to monitor change in shape, number, and any indication of malignancy.
Anyway, after that first ultrasound, I felt a sigh of relief. It’s one thing to assume it’s probably nothing and another to know it’s actually nothing.
Fast forward to 2012 and I still have them. I have most of them needle aspirated. But they grow back so I’ve decided to leave them be unless there’s some real threat. And based on my most recent ultrasound, they’re all still benign. But I’m turning 30 next year and my doctor said it’s time to get my first mammogram (this early, because I have a family history of breast cancer).
I’m scheduled to do the mammogram this December. Crossfingers that everything turns out ok.
feature image credit: health.net