It was my Sophomore Year and I was sitting in Health class listening to Mrs. Kidney (yup that was her name) tell us how to give ourselves Breast Self Exams. Breast Self Exam? I barely had any breast at all so what was I looking for?
Mrs. Kidney told us how to place our two fingers and cover the area of our breast (including under our armpits) in a small continual circular motion. She told us it didn’t matter our much (or little) amount of breast tissue we felt we had this was something we should do.
The whole time she was talking I kept thinking “Why do I have to know this? I’m only 16. 16 year olds don’t get lumps.”
By the end of the class I knew how to do an exam and had signed a contract saying I would promise to do one at least once a month. Ok fine whatever.
Later that night I was bored and as I was unpacking my bag from school I saw the Breast Self Exam Contract. “Oh well, why not?”
I laid down on my bed put my arm up in the air like I was raising it to answer a question and started my small circular motions. One boobie down one to go. As I got to my left brest on the interior side I felt something. “Wait…did I feel something? Am I loosing it?”
I made one more motion and yup, it was something. I thought I had to be bugging out so I went back to my other breast and nope…nothing similar. Again with my left breast, same lump. Hard and a bit tender. “What was going on?”
I ran to my Grandmother in a panic and told her what I had felt. She had me lay down and raise my arm again as she did an exam of her own. It was still there. The next day was a fog. All I kept thinking was “I’m only 16…How is this happening?”
My grandmother made an appointment with my Pediatrician the next day. As we went she started to tell me how she had already had 11 surgeries to remove lumps for her own breast. She told me a lump didn’t always equal cancer. I felt better. I had no idea of her story.
When we arrived I assumed the position for yet another set of circular motions. This time they had a bit more pressure. My doctor wanted to be certain. He said I did indeed have a lump and that it seemed to have ‘roots’ to it so it was ‘floating’.
These terms, the words he said. I couldn’t hear them anymore. “I’m only 16…How is this happening?”
My surgery was scheduled for the very next week. I would have to miss work and school for at least 2 days after. I was in shock. “I’m only 16…How is this happening?”
After my surgery, the doctor came into the room where my Grandmother and I were sitting. I was in the recovery area and still a bit foggy. He told my grandmother that the lump was gone. He’d gotten all of the ‘roots’ and that my breast was clear of all of it. We would know the results by the next day.
What!?!? I had to wait… Again in my mind like a creepy song on repeat “I’m Only 16…How is this happening?”
When the doctor finally called he told my Grandmother that my lump was benign. There were no cancer cells and I didn’t need to worry.
I can’t explain the relief I felt that day. That is until one year later to the date I found another lump this time in my right breast. After a repeat of the same scenarios I was blessed to find out that it too was benign.
The doctor explained that despite my good news I should continue to do my monthly Breast Self Exams. Trust me I do. This is my story.
I am now a true believer in Breast Self Exams. Without them Mrs. Kidnay and that Sophomore Year Health Class I’m not sure when or if I would have found the lump in my breast (either time).
I was blessed enough that my lumps were not cancerous but I still have every intention of teaching my daughter’s how to give themselves exams when the time comes. Being 16 didn’t exempt me from anything but being aware did help. Nobody knows a woman’s body better than a woman. Know your body and it may help you in the long term…
If you are willing to share your personal breast cancer awareness or survival story please enter the Giveaway for a chance to win $50 from Kohl’s and help spread awareness at the same time by simply being willing to #TalkPink !