Friday, August 7, 2015

And now, back to our regularly scheduled program...

Last week, I found a lump.


I had just scheduled my annual screening mammogram. I don't regularly practice self breast exam, but somehow, I bumped my breast just right and found a hard little nodule. I have fibrocystic breasts, as my doctor likes to remind me. I've been told to "get to know my lumps". I would say that in general, I do. They're rubbery, squishy globs.

This one was different. It was a hard little ball. It kind of felt like a pebble. I called my doctor's office, and they told me I needed a diagnostic mammogram and an ultrasound. I called to reschedule the appointment, and was able to get one sooner. At first, I wasn't nervous about it. I've had these "scares" before, even ending up with a biopsy once. Thankfully, that lump was benign. But that was a rubbery, mobile nodule.

As time passed, I kept telling myself not to worry. I was worried. This lump was so different from anything I had ever felt before. Everything I've ever heard about breast cancer made this one very scary. It was hard. It was fixed. It wasn't painful.

I had a few days to think about all of it. Naturally, I thought about it a lot. Selfishly, I thought about how would this finding affect my marathon training. My pursuit of the mother of all goals, that sub-4 marathon?

What if I needed a biopsy? Would I still be able to train? I would be able to run, but would probably have to skip a few CrossFit sessions. Ok. I could live with that.

But what if it was malignant? What then? Could I still train for my marathon? And deal with it after the race? Would anything really bad happen in that time frame, if I waited? How selfish would it be for me to chase my dream? How stupid would it be for me to postpone treatment? Am I really that crazy? Who thinks this way?

I told myself, it's just a dream. I told myself to wait and see what the tests showed. My dream, in the big picture, means nothing to anyone but me. But what if I don't chase that dream? What if...what if...the worst happened? What if I didn't chase my dream, and I never had the chance to do it again?

You all know that I try to live my life with no regrets. Being in my 50s, I want to savor every moment of the rest of my life. I want to live fully. I want my life to be meaningful. I want to travel. I want to see my boys grow up, marry, and have families. And most important, I want to stay healthy. I work hard at the pursuit of health. Hence the name of my blog. I'm in no hurry for my life to be over.

These are the things I thought about this past week. I know that there are some things out of my control. But would you, as a runner, judge another runner on a decision like this? Would you judge anyone who had to make a tough, life changing decision?

I know.
I went for my mammogram. After the technician took the xrays, I looked at the images. I know enough to be dangerous, remember. I saw lots of tissue. I have "dense" breasts. Every time I have a mammogram, the technicians tell me that. So does my doctor. I could see the nodule. It was perfectly round, which was a really good sign. Even borders=a good thing. Seeing that, I felt more optimistic.

Then the technician told me that the radiologist wanted to ultrasound not just that breast, but both breasts. She had seen calcium deposits on the left side and wanted a better look at them. She told me clusters of calcium deposits could be a bad sign. So off to the ultrasound I went. The technician did her thing, smearing cold gel all over my chest and moving the probe over every area possible. She didn't say much. They can't. You know they know. But they can't say anything. My chest covered with gel, she left the room to get the radiologist.

I laid on the table, with my eyes closed, listening to the humming of the equipment. I felt calm. I was tired. I thought about all this again. What if, what if?

The radiologist came bouncing into the room. She wanted to take one more look at the lesion.

"It's a cyst," she proclaimed. "Nothing to worry about." And those calcium deposits? Nothing to be concerned about. She just wanted to make sure. She was new, she told me. And she wanted to be thorough. Not a problem.

She told me to come back in a year for my annual screening mammogram.

Relief washed over me. I felt like the weight of the world had been lifted from my shoulders. I was so grateful that everything was normal. I didn't have to make any tough decisions. Life could go on.

Since then, my runs have been easier, and I've been able to push harder at CrossFit. Those little annoyances at work aren't getting under my skin. I have been waking up with a smile on my face. I feel energetic.


Take good care of yourself. Follow the recommendations of the American Cancer Society for breast cancer screening. Do your monthly breast exam. That first lump I had biopsied a few years ago? I found that one. It was not seen on the mammogram. If you are over 40, you should have an annual screening mammogram. And if you find anything unusual, call your doctor. Don't wait.

Have you ever had a health scare? How did it affect your training? 





93 comments :

  1. Wow. Thank goodness everything is alright! Thanks for sharing your story - although a scary situation, it's nice to see that it has fueled your workouts. Hugs!

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    1. This was a good wake up call! It's pretty easy to get wrapped up in everything and forget to take care of routine health screenings.

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  2. I'm so thankful everything is okay!!!!!!

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  4. Wow! I am so glad that everything was okay!

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    1. Me too! Thanks! Good reminder to stay on top of this.

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  5. Very glad it all turned out fine! You had me on the edge of my seat, I can't imagine what you went through. Thanks for sharing I too need to pay more attention an get that screening! Have a great Friday Wendy!

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    1. Making everyone aware was really the point of this post! It was really scary!

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  6. Wow I was nervous reading along. So happy you got a good report back from the screening, huge relief.

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  7. I'm so happy for you that everything is okay. These scares really do make you appreciate what you have, don't they. I have dense beasts too, been through the ultrasound, and had a needle biopsy. I understand those fears, even the crazy ones. Glad you're fine.

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  8. So thankful everything turned out well for you!! Phew. I have had so many friends and family affected by breast cancer, I am so diligent with breast exams and mammograms. I've been getting them since I was 36 due to family history. Breathing a sigh of relief for you.

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    1. You never can let your guard down, that's for sure!

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  9. Very glad it's just a cyst. Any runner would have exactly the same thoughts running through their head.

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  10. No one would judge your thoughts. They are our thoughts, arriving unbidden. We cannot help but be disappointed if our plans, no matter what they are, go awry; we are devastated when the rug is pulled out from under us.

    My rug was pulled out at age 39, with my boys then 9 and 11. A malignancy, carcinoma (thyroid), but as you can see, all ended up being okay. Like you, all I could think of is what would happen to them if I died? They were too young. I was too young. I was lucky. Life went on.

    Last month, I was the very age at which my father died, sixty-two and nine months. Far, far too young. Like you, I am not ready for my life to be done. There is so, so much to do. In many ways, I feel as though I am just getting started.

    Like you, I try to let the daily aggravations wash over me. I am not always successful, but know that each and every day is a gift. When I fail, I go to bed, get up the next day, and start anew, try again. And again.

    Sending you mega hugs. I am so happy that the bullet missed you. Peace be with you.
    With Love and Joy, ~Connie

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    1. Thank you so much Connie. Your friendship and support means the world to me!

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  11. So glad to hear that everything is okay! I can only imagine how much stress has been lifted off of your shoulders and how much easier it is to get back to normal life.

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    1. I had no idea how heavily this had been weighing on my shoulders until I got the all clear. Wow.

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  12. Phew! Very glad to hear all is well. The stress of waiting and wondering is the worst.

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    1. I"m glad they got me in so fast. I only had to wait over the weekend.

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  13. Wendy, omg.:( I'm so glad everything turned out to be OK. That's so scary. I would have had the same exact thoughts as you. Hugs!

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    1. Thank you! It was pretty scary! I'm so glad it was just a cyst.

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  14. whew! I am so happy for you! It does make you say so what if??? It is scary, I just got my reminder card in the mail to make my yearly appointment. I am thrilled to head up to Atlanta to celebrate my girlfriends one year cancer free status, life is short, what if????????

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    1. That's exactly it, what if? I've still got a lot on my bucket list...

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  15. Praise the Lord it was just a cyst. Thank you for this reminder. I am 31 and often times think, "I am still young," but really I am not. I need to make sure I am checking more often. Thanks for this, Wendy!

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    1. I started getting mammograms at 35 because I have so many lumps. It's always a sense of relief when I get the all clear. This was a little more nerve wracking!

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  16. I've been screened since my mid 30's as my Mother had breast cancer at the age of 50. She found her cancer and they kept dismissing hers as nothing, but she knew better and was persistent. She ended up having a mastectomy within days of getting the correct diagnosis. I'm so glad everything turned out OK. A scare like that does sort of put things in perspective. Life is precious.

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    1. Isn't that horrible, that they kept telling your mom not to worry? When I called, they got me in right away. Pretty amazing, really.

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    2. I forgot to mention I took the plunge with Tricia for a weekly link. I hope you will link up on the Weekly Wrap!!! I've got a few topics already for our Tine of the Month link too!!!

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    3. I saw that, and yes, I'll be linking up!

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  17. I'm so glad things turned out well for you, Wendy; I would definitely have been nervous, too. I have my first mammogram in October and I'm already preparing myself for the callback - ha!

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    1. I've gone back and forth from screening to diagnostic...such is the life with fibrocystic breast disease...

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  18. I'm so happy you're ok! So sorry for the scare, though - no fun at all. I haven't had a bad scare like this, but my Mom has had quiet a few. She once had a doctor tell her she had a bunch of tumors that looked like ovarian cancer. It turned out to just be scare tissue. Terrible! Thank goodness for second opinions!

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  19. Whewf. And good for you on being right on it. That is nothing to play around with!

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  20. Very happy to hear this turned out to be nothing worrisome. And I think sometimes, when there's a big scary possibility looming overhead, one does focus on the minutia of life...helps to keep you sane.

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    1. Luckily my job keeps me busy, I didn't have a lot of time to think about it!

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  21. Thank goodness everything is all right! I can only imagine how worried you are in the "not knowing" period!

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    1. I'm so glad I didn't have long to wait on an answer.

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  22. Yikes.
    I'm so glad nothing came of it! What a way to put things into perspective.
    (I'd also be worried about how something like that would impact my marathon training!)

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    1. I needed to hear that I'm not the only one who would worry about the marathon!

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  23. BIG HUGS!!! So glad that everything came out okay!!! What a HUGE relief!!! So glad that you are good about monitoring yourself and that you went in to get it checked out so quickly!!!

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    1. I've got too much left that I want to do! I try to stay on top of things. But there's that colonoscopy that I need to do.. yuck...

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  24. I am so glad everything turned out okay and thank you for the reminder to take our health into our own hands. And yes, I would be equally concerned how something would impact my marathon training and running every day.

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    1. Yes, we have to be in charge of our health, for sure! And I'm glad to know that I'm not the only one who would be worried about running too...

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  25. To say I am happy everything turned out okay for you is an understatement! I have never gone through a life changing health scare like you described so it is hard for me to imagine what that would be like. But you described it in a way that as a runner, I could put myself in your shoes. I wouldn't judge anyone for their healthcare decisions so long as they made it with a clear understanding of the information- which obviously as a nurse practitioner you would do! My hubby and I have had to make huge decisions on his healthcare before. I mean, we have geared up for a second brain surgery for him (all my sub pans were made, cat sitter lined up) and then met with his surgeon at Johns Hopkins who basically told us we could wait on the surgery if we wanted to. Such hard decisions to make! Luckily we trust his doctors and feel like they are definitely going to guide us in the right direction when it comes to the big decisions.

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    1. I"m glad I didn't have to make any big decisions. That has to be tough and you really have to let go of control, don't you? I hope he's doing ok.

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  26. Good reminder to us all! Glad you are ok. I dont' do self exams really but do get my check up and mammogram every year. so important!

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    1. I don't do SBE either, but I think this was a good wake up call!

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  27. Oh man, thank goodness everything was okay!!!!

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    1. Relief, joy, and gratitude pretty much covers it!

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  28. So glad you are ok.... I have strong family hx of early breast cancer in my family...and so have had small irregularities watched more closely probably because everyone is more nervous... Every time before a test I go through the same process...and then relief. It's a good reminder to not take anything for granted and live every day to it's fullest... you are definitely doing that!

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    1. That's what was so scary--I'm sure not ready to put anything on hold yet!

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  29. I'm so glad all turned out well! Great reminder for us all to self check.

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  30. OH goodness... how scary. There's nothing like something like that that makes life has a whole different perspective.
    I'm so happy for you that everything was OK... I know you probably feel like a whole new lease on life - gives you motivation to train even harder appreciating every minute!!!

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    1. I just feel so relieved! I'm not ready for anything like that...not that anybody is.

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  31. So glad everything turned out ok, I can imagine how scary that would have been!!

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    1. I'm just glad it's just a cyst. We know way too much, don't we?

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  32. I am happy it's nothing. Being medical professionals you would think we wold know better and do better self exams, but alas even after a scare of myown a fe wyears ago I still dont check religiously

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    1. It was just by chance that I found the cyst...I'm not great about SBE either. You'd think I would have learned by now...

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  33. What a scare and what a relief! You're correct, life is better after a scare like that. Because I've had so many basal cells, I'm extremely aware of my skin and check it regularly, plus see my dermatologist twice a year for full body exams. I found my melanoma very early and called my doctor immediately. It didn't look like the ugly black melanoma pictures, but it didn't look right, so I got it examined. I'm so glad I caught it early!

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    1. Oh, the dermatologist is my next stop...sigh...

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  34. Thank you for sharing. They found a lump in my breast at my yearly exam when I was in my early 20s. At the time, I didn't really know enough to be worried. It also turned out to be a cyst. Now, I know breast cancer runs in my family and I'm in my late 30s.Finding a lump now would be a different ball game. I cannot imagine the trauma that this must have put you through. I imagine I would feel the same way and would keep pushing toward my dream no matter what. But, I don't know. Thankfully, you don't have to make that decision either. Congrats!

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  35. Glad it was nothing to worry about!

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  36. I've had 2 lumps removed, and several scares. Marathon training would definitely be a non-issue for my worries if/when this happens. I am so glad you are ok!

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    1. Me too! I'm glad I don't have to make any tough decisions!

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  37. WoW! Glad you have a happy ending to this scare :-) Thanks for the reminder to be attentive to ourselves!

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    1. We all need a reminder to take care of ourselves!

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  38. So so happy for you that it turned out this way! Recently I had something removed off my back and I didn't realize how much I had been thinking about it until they called to tell me that it came back non-cancerous.

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    1. That's how I felt! I didn't realize how nervous I was until after the fact. What a relief!

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  39. Glad everything is okay! Such an important message to be aware of!

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  40. Big big virtual hugs, Wendy! So glad everything turned out to be okay! I can't imagine how scary that must have been, especially being a nurse and knowing all that you do. So relieved for you and your family that it's just a cyst. And thanks for the great reminder to all of us ladies to get screened!

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    1. So relieved, and yes, it was a good reminder for all of us!

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  41. Glad all is well. I had one of those lump issues three years ago, it was a pretty tense 3 or 4 weeks waiting on health care and results. I need to do more self-exams.

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    1. Yep, the waiting is the hardest part! I need to be better about SBE.

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  42. Wow, so glad you are OK. I have been going for a mammogram for about 10 years now. My sister had/had breast cancer so my doctor told me to go get one. I had to argue with my insurance company because normally they wouldn't pay till I was 40.

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    1. I started going for mammograms in my 30s too. It's too bad your insurance gave you such a hard time! I don't get that.

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  43. WOW, what a scare. Thank God you are okay :)

    I need to do more regular doctor checkups. Although, I'm in my late 20's, I think an early mammogram wouldn't hurt.

    Happy running Wendy.

    -Agnes
    aggieruns.wordpress.com

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    1. You're probably ok, if you and your doctor don't find anything unusual. Insurance probably won't cover a screening mammo for you unless there's a family history...

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  44. Glad everything is okay! I would probably be freaking out too. I'm same as Agnes's comment above, I also am in my 20s but know I should be more meticulous about self-checking. Thanks for the reminder!

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    1. That's why I shared my story...it's always good to stay on top of this!

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  45. SO glad for you that everything turned out well. I have only done a mammogram once, I hated it, decided I wasn't going back. Maybe I should revisit that thinking.

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    1. I don't have a problem getting the mammograms. Did it hurt? It really shouldn't! Don't let that stop you from going. I need to get a colonoscopy too, and that's a whole different ball game...

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  46. So glad everything turned out well! I know all too well how knowing just a little too much can be dangerous. Thanks for the Ryan Gosling meme :) I think we'd all be better about getting our preventative care if we had him reminding us.

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