Saturday, November 12, 2011

A Lump - A Cyst

I spent an hour or so with my primary-care physician yesterday, being examined, because on Wednesay, I found a lump in my left breast.
It is a cyst. It is benign. There is no reason for worry. But between Wednesday and yesterday, when I saw my doctor, a lot of thoughts went through my mind.

Several of my friends have survived breast cancer; some of my friends and acquaintances have died from it. Because I know people who are in treatment for it right now, I did not want to mention this, or have any kind of drama around it, especially as I knew it might be just a cyst. I have had cysts before, which has meant having follow-up scans after mammograms, and even a core biopsy, during which they placed a clip in my left breast (for future reference). No cancer, but every time a lump is discovered, anxiety arises.

I wish that breasts were not a source of so much anxiety, now that I'm in  what is commonly called "mid-life." Whenever I find a lump, I start to feel as if my chest has two ticking time-bombs on it. I don't want to view any part of my body that way, but it's hard not to feel anxiety when we are told to check them every month, and to come in immediately if we find anything. Is there any other part of the body which is considered so "dangerous," so potentially hazardous? - and yet, also such a beautiful part of the human form! It is a topic that is front and center (pun intended) with a lot of women nowadays.
Gregg enjoying art in Paris
One of the most interesting things about this whole episode is the fact that, though I don't want to have cancer, I am not much concerned about how long I get to live. I have strong feelings about wanting to die painlessly (preferably in my sleep, and before Gregg), but the length of my years is not a real issue with me. I've had a good life and many blessings, so I wasn't worried about dying as much as I was worried about putting my family through the cancer journey again. I definitely do not want David, Gregg or my parents to have to go through that - and I don't want to go through it, either. I'm aware that what I want is of little consequence, so I just tried to stay in the present moment and enjoy that moment, telling myself that whatever comes up, God is with me and will be with me in it. It wasn't easy - I kept having to remind myself that in this moment, everything is okay. And it is, and I am grateful. I wish it were so for everyone.
Prayer candles in Notre Dame de Paris
Sending love and prayers for blessing, healing and comfort to Kay, Robin, Allegra, Panda & Leslie - and all who are in treatment for any kind of cancer.


Ellen said...

Dear Karen,
That C word...such fear and anxiety with it.
My mom had breast cancer and I started mammograms at an early age because of that. I am at the age she was when this happened and the fear of it every year crops up. For 4 years I have had to go in twice a year as they found extremely small calcifications in my right breast on the rib wall. Exactly where my mom's lump was found. It is very hard to x-ray because it is so far back. I don't see myself as high risk just because of her though. But I worry for my daughters just the same. This year I am free from all the twice a year and extra screenings! I am relieved!

Our breasts...we just go in and we do those self exams. We exercise and we try to eat the right foods. We try.

Take care and live

Robin said...

So very much extremely glad that you are OK! Love you.

Maggie May said...

I can't imagine the worry when you've been through losing Katie. I'm SO glad you are OK.

Elizabeth said...

Well, I'm grateful that it was just a cyst, and having been through that scare know, too, the anxiety but more the dissociation -- your words, as always, are so calming, your mien extraordinary.

I love the way you are, Karen. What a blessing to know you.

ChiTown Girl said...

Oh, Karen, I'm so sorry you had to deal with this. I can only imagine how scary it must be.

Right after Stud was born, I felt a lump on the side of one of my breasts, and in the time it took me to get dressed, I already had him growing up without a mother. I was terrified. Turns out it was only a swollen milk gland. I still remember the terror I felt, though, and I don't ever want to feel that way again.

You never cease to amaze me with your calm strength. I really admire that about you. Among many, many other things! xoxox

Leslie said...


So glad it turned out to be cyst, but that doesn't alleviate one's stress during the testing phase!

Mary Potts said...

Karen, I echo everyone else's sentiments here. I'm very grateful you're ok. I also understand the calm manner in which you accept living and dying and cancer journeys, all of which are out of our control. We both painfully know that from first hand experience.

I, too, have "lumpy" breasts, and through the years have had cysts drained, a metal clip placed after a biopsy of a questionable area, and most recently, a stereotactic biopsy of an area that they needed to make absolutely sure was merely a calcification before I was allowed to donate my kidney to my brother last April. My right breast looked like someone took a baseball bat to it after that one!

It was interesting though. I was not afraid of the result of that test as it related to me and my future, but rather that it would impact my brother's because he would no longer have been able to receive my kidney if they'd discovered cancerous cells.

It's amazing how one's perspective on life changes after the cancer/death journey of one's child.

Robin Gaphni said...

Phew! I'm glad that it was just a cyst. Having had a few cysts, I know the anxiety they can provoke before the appointment, as well as the immense relief afterwards. Have a great weekend with Greg!

Jim said...

Hi Karen, it was so good to hear from you today.
I am happy that you are OK and it wasn't anything too serious.
I LOVE that photo of David!! How appropriate for this post! lol A man who enjoys art!
I subscribe to a woman you may find interesting and helpful in 'your journey'. Her name is Karen Maezen Miller. She is a Zen Priest and she lives in California. Her 'blog' is 'Cheerio Road'.
Here is the link:


Kay said...

Everything you said is so true. It is scary when you find a lump/bump/cyst or whatever the choice word to call it. I couldn't even bring myself to call it a lump when I first found mine. I'm thankful you're ok though. Glad to hear that. Sorry if this makes little sense..on valium right now and struggle to say much of anything these days.: p

Busy Bee Suz said...

I am so thankful that you are fine Karen. I really admire your thought process through all this too. My first thoughts are always of the kids and then I wonder how the Coach could ever find someone as good as me.
Kidding. well, not really.
I hope that made you laugh.
You are so right about these body parts that could be potentially dangerous to us...hopefully one day that worry will be eradicated for all women!!!

Anonymous said...

Wow Karen - thank you for sharing this.
I echo Mary's words - how things change when your child has gone before you.
Glad we could catch up this week.
Lots of love...

Me said...

Sorry you had to deal with this stress and worry but so relieved it is going to be ok. Prayers that it continues to be ok every month and beyond. Love to you and the family. XOXO

Jason, as himself said...

I am so very glad that you don't have to go through what so many have, and are going through. You have had enough.

I am walking this weekend for all of those who have.

I'm glad you're doing well!

Anonymous said...

Hi Karen -

I'm a little late on responding to this, but wanted you to know that I'm so glad you are okay.

I totally get that you are no longer concerned with how long you live (with the exception of your concerns about family). I feel exactly the same way. My grandmother lived to be 100 ~ no thank you! Another 50 years before I see Caroline again? I hope not. But as we know, absolutely none of this is in our control.

All that being said, I am so glad that you are okay!