Several years ago while doing a monthly breast exam at home, I found a lump. This wasn’t exactly new to me, because ever since puberty, I pretty much have had benign lumps come and go.

As my doctor once told me, I’m “lumpy.” (What a morale boost for a young woman!).

So when I found this lump, I didn’t panic.

It was a week before my son’s 2nd birthday, and I had a lot of other things to take care of. I assumed I’d be in and out of my doctor’s office with the same “not a big deal” feedback I’ve always received.

But when my doctor stood over me quietly, I began to worry. He told me it was probably nothing, but I needed an ultrasound.

When a doctor who has been telling you it’s nothing for years switches to probably nothing, it gives you pause. It allows doubt to enter. It allows fear to enter.

I told myself all the things that they tell you to tell yourself: One day at a time. There is nothing to worry about…yet. Let’s just see what the tests say before getting worried.

But even with all of this positive self talk, I still launched into the “what if’s.” What if it’s not nothing? What if it’s malignant ? What if I die?

When I went in for the ultrasound, they told me they actually saw two lumps, one which was just a benign cyst and one that was probably (there’s that word again) a benign tissue cluster. It was too hard to confirm from the ultrasound, so they needed to take a tissue sample.

So at 31 years old, I had my first biopsy.  While uncomfortable, it wasn’t the worst pain I have ever felt. I did give birth after all. It always helps to have labor to go back to as a benchmark.

It was a Wednesday afternoon, and they told me it should take a week to know the results. Luckily, I had an amazing, supportive doctor during this procedure. She put a rush on the tests.  I got a call on Friday morning to let me know all was well.

The mass was benign and just need to be rechecked in 6 months for changes. If there were no changes, then I didn’t need to worry about it. This wonderful doctor told me she didn’t want me to have to go through the weekend without knowing that I was ok. I cried right then and there.

I took that phone call in a shopping mall, by the way. When I hung up, I went directly to buy a cute little black sweater that I had my eye on previously. I called it my “I don’t have cancer” sweater, and I wore it to my son’s 2nd birthday party the next day.

I felt so grateful that I was fine and could spend all my time and energy celebrating my sweet boy.

I had not thought of this experience much in recent years, but talking with a dear friend who just went through her own scare (and thankfully is also fine) brought it all back to me.  It also reminded me that since having my second son 19 months ago, I can’t remember if I have done a single at home breast exam.

We all get busy, and we all have so much to take care of. We put out children’s needs first. Money is also tight, and many people do not have affordable healthcare. But it’s so important to do what we can for ourselves.

For those of us living comfortably with access to quality information and healthcare resources, we need to not waste them. Those who are comfortable talking about their experiences should do so. You just never know those whom you might help simply by sharing your story.

Sometimes all we need is to hear that someone else has gone through something similar to feel understood, which then can give us the energy to take the next step.

Compared to others who are battling cancer, my story seems small. But even these “scares” can help us better take care of ourselves and shake us out of complacency. So tonight I will make the commitment to start doing home breast exams again. I hope this story in some way, large or small, helps you as well.

Have you or someone close to you had a health scare? How did it affect your health care regiment?

 This has been an original post to World Moms Blog by Tara B. of Washington (State) USA.

Photo credit is to Audrey Pilato. This photo has a creative commons attribution license. 

Tara Bergman (USA)

Tara is a native Pennsylvanian who moved to the Seattle area in 1998 (sight unseen) with her husband to start their grand life adventure together. Despite the difficult fact that their family is a plane ride away, the couple fell in love with the Pacific Northwest and have put down roots. They have 2 super charged little boys and recently moved out of the Seattle suburbs further east into the country, trading in a Starbucks on every corner for coyotes in the backyard. Tara loves the outdoors (hiking, biking, camping). And, when her family isn't out in nature, they are hunkered down at home with friends, sharing a meal, playing games, and generally having fun. She loves being a stay-at-home mom and sharing her experiences on World Moms Network!

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