This past winter I found a lump in my left breast.
My breasts are always tender and swollen right before my cycle so I chalked it up to the fact that it was probably just PMS or that maybe what I felt wasn’t really there, I mean breast cancer doesn’t run in my family so I shouldn’t worry; right?But the lump was there every time I felt for it.
And for the next seven months I didn’t do anything about it.
It wasn’t until June when I finally had an appointment with my doctor. The following week I was at Princess Margaret Hospital for my first mammogram. I checked in and the nurses told me I could hang out in the lounge, rumour had it that this was the best place in the city to get a mammogram. Before I knew it we were all laughing out loud.
Was I getting a mani/pedi at the coolest new nail place?
Nope. Reality check. Hello mammogram that will squash your ladies down to the size of a pancake. You’ll feel incredibly vulnerable; but lucky for me I was taken care of by a team of compassionate superheroes, also known as the entire staff of Princess Margaret Hospital.
I spent the next three weeks at Princess Margaret experiencing the full meal deal. It started with an ultrasound, which led to a biopsy, followed by another mammogram and two surgeries.
It turns out I had developed a rare tumor in my left breast called a Phyllodes Tumor that was thankfully benign. Phyllodes Tumors grow to be quite large in size and leave cells – or rather lays eggs – in the breast tissue. Meaning that those cells can grow into other tumors as well as grow into cancer. I am lucky I caught it before it became cancer and, not to be hard on myself, but I definitely shouldn’t have waited.
Early detection is everything.
More now than ever, we have to be actively responsible about our health. Doctors are not calling you in to have your routine check ups anymore. So it’s simple. Check your breasts. ‘Cause breast cancer affects everyone. Men included.
The experience has been life changing, a lesson in non-attachment, in re-defining beauty, and in what beauty actually means.
Not to mention that I know three other women who found lumps in their breasts. All of our diagnoses, all of our stories: different. I’ve been smoking since I was sixteen years old and I decided it was time for me to quit, as well, I also chose to stop drinking socially. I have a glass of wine or two on certain occasions, but that’s it now.
If you’re wondering how to help someone who is going through this or something like it, text them to say that you’re thinking about them, offer to accompany them to an appointment, stop by for tea, bring a meal, offer to help out with their kids, dog, cat, or all of the above.
It’s the simple things that mean the most.
Hence: Laughter. Is. Medicine.
Definitely cozy up with your favourite comedy people. Tig Notaro (Breast Cancer Survivor), Amy Schumer, Louis C.K., Melissa McCarthy, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Zach Galifianakis, or whoever makes your lungs hurt from laughing.
Read about Christina Applegate & Cynthia Nixon’s personal journey with Breast Cancer. Through hearing their stories I became empowered, I became brave when I faced my diagnosis.
When I was told the doctor wanted to bring me back after my first mammogram for further testing it was confirmed; something was wrong.
Suddenly, life got real. I stood on University Avenue, the sun bright and warm. I called my Mom. I heard her voice and seven months of containing everything of living in a state of frozen panic poured out of me onto the pavement. My Mom trying to console me, me thinking I am only 37 years old. How. How is this happening? I had to ask myself an honest question. If there was one thing that my friends and family would say about me what would it be?
It would be that they had wished I’d let my guard down allowing them to take care of me.
So over these last four months that is what I did.
I allowed myself to be taken care of. I listened to my intuition. I let go of unhealthy relationships. I got clear. I now know the people who love me unconditionally. Who champion me and who I champion back, and I make sure to hold them close.
Everything else, everyone else – I’ve let it be.
I work hard to be healthy. Someone said to me that I could treat this as a horrific event in my life or I could treat it as a blessing. I treat what has happened to me as a blessing. It’s had a profound effect on my life.
I hope that my story allows others to know and feel that they are not alone.
For a topic that makes so many people uncomfortable it’s time we lean into that discomfort and start talking about it…
When we listen to and draw from our inner wisdom and the greater consciousness, we begin the fulfilling and sometimes the miraculous journey towards healing.
– Bernie Siegel, MD, from his new book The Art Of Healing