I had a history of cysts so I thought nothing when I found another lump in my breast in the summer of 1992. I went to my family doctor as I always did. He felt the lump and thought it was nothing to be concerned about, but suggested that I have an ultra sound to check it out. The lump was high on my left breast and did not show up on a mammogram. I went for the ultrasound. When the results came back, my family doctor told me it was a fluid-filled cyst and nothing to worry about and to just keep an eye on it.
One year later the lump was still there, a little bigger, and a little painful. I went back to my doctor, who sent me for another ultrasound. He told me the results came back the same – that it was a cyst and nothing to worry about it. I told him I WAS worried and would need a referral to a surgeon. He told me it wasn’t necessary and wouldn’t give me a referral. I went to the surgeon on my own.
My surgeon attempted to aspirate the lump, but was unable to get any fluid out of it. He decided to do a needle biopsy. I was going directly past the hospital on my way to work, so he asked if I would mind dropping the specimen off…of course, I did that. I was at work about an hour when the phone rang. It was my surgeon. His words to me were, “we have a problem”. I had known in my heart that my lump was not just a cyst. My fears were now confirmed, but now I also knew that I would have an ally in this new battle I would have to fight. I got my news on a Monday and my lumpectomy was scheduled for the very next Wednesday.
I returned to my surgeon for a follow-up five days after the surgery and as a result of the pathologist’s report, he recommended a mastectomy. That procedure was scheduled for two days later. I had absolutely no problems following the surgery and made a full recovery. The day I returned home from the hospital, my family doctor called. His first words to me when I answered the phone were “what the hell is going on?” I told him that the lump he dismissed over a year ago as “just a cyst” was cancer and that he was no longer my doctor.
My message is this…take an active part in your healthcare. Just because a doctor says “don’t worry”, if something bothers you…seek further advice…and do your monthly breast self-exams – they might just save your life. I know they saved mine.