13 May 2012


Friday night I had the pleasure of attending an event created to raise money for and awareness of breast cancer. Pink Friday brought together 30 women for an evening of storytelling, socializing, drinking, eating and game playing that resulted in more than $3,400 donated to the cause.

Until this event, I had never heard of Pink Friday, a concept created in the U.K. In America, October is breast cancer month so there are lots of public service announcements, cancer walks and galas in the fall. I think that holding a Pink Friday event over Mother’s Day weekend was an excellent choice.

My friend, Avril, hosted the evening and advised that four of her friends under the age of 50 have been hit with the disease; three were able to write letters in support of our evening. I am sure that everyone in the room had some sort of connection to the disease and one woman shared her encounter. We are all thrilled that she was there with us.

I was 22 when I had my first tumor removed. I was at home on a fall break my senior year of college. I remember that I was lying on the couch and something prompted me to do a self exam, though I don’t remember what. Maybe I saw a commercial about breast exams, maybe Oprah had a show, maybe I just had a thought to check myself.

So, with my right hand pressed against my left boob, I started feeling around. To be honest, I had no idea what I was trying to find, but the doctor on Oprah at one point or another did say that a lump should feel like a frozen pea. I just felt a lot of bulges – some big, some small – but no frozen peas. I did, however, feel something small, squishy and out on its own.

I wasn’t worried at all but I knew I should likely get myself checked, so I called my family doctor and made an appointment. The day before my appointment, I very matter-of-factly told my mom that I made a doctor’s appointment because I felt a lump in my boob. I stated that I was not concerned so she should not be either, and that was the end of the conversation.

My doctor recommended that I get a better exam when I was back at school so I had an ultrasound to see just what was in there. At that time, the U.S. insurance companies would not allow anyone under the age of 40 to have a mammogram – which is STUPID – so I had to get all jellyed up and watch the technician play hide and seek with various forms of tissue and other stuff.

That day they removed three cysts and biopsied the confirmed tumor. From the time that I first felt the mystery object, through the doctor’s appointments and exams, I was never nervous. I did not have any concerns until I arrived back at the women’s center to receive my results. The woman in the room asked if I had anyone with me. I replied, “No, should I?”

“Well,” she continued. “We prefer that there be someone with you so that you have support and someone else hearing the information that is presented.” At that point, my heart sank and I proceeded to freak out. It was all for nothing because she told me that the biopsy showed the tumor was benign. Thanks, lady.

Over Christmas break, I had the tumor removed by a doctor who told me that I had very lumpy breasts. Again, thanks, doc. That’s exactly what every 22-year-old wants to hear.

Last fall during a routine checkup, my Singaporean doctor recommended that I have another ultrasound since it had been years since my last one. Another larger tumor was hiding deep in the tissue so it was no surprise, my doctor said, that I did not feel this one.

My boobs are tiny. I am hereby proclaiming to the world that I have Victoria’s Secret-defined A cups and I had a tumor that I could not feel. This is why every woman should get checked by some sort of boob-checking device every year – you won’t always feel it yourself.

Again, by the grace of God, I came through my surgery well and a few days following was advised that this tumor was again benign. I have been blessed so far to have only a couple scars to remind me to get checked. My friends, however, aren’t always so lucky.

I am sure most of you can name a few people in your life who have been affected by breast cancer, so it surprises me how many people still are not getting checked. They know they should but something is holding them back. Maybe it’s fear of something bad; maybe it’s fear of the unknown. Maybe they think that as long as they don’t notice anything different, there is nothing to worry about.

Quit making excuses. Get checked, get your friends to get checked – heck, make a group appointment and then go out to lunch or drinks after! With technology as advanced as it is today – and only getting more advanced by the day – there is no reason that we cannot find these things early.

The truth is that breast cancer can hit anyone, not just women over 40, so whether you are 20 or 80, whether your boobs are just starting to pop out or they are falling to your belt, get yourself checked. If you like your boobs, do your part to keep them.

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