I Found A Lump…Again

I noticed a small knot under my arm while taking a shower.  When it was still there a month later, I decided it was time to have it checked out.  Since it was time for my annual physical anyway, I figured I’d kill two birds since my doctor was probably going to send me for a mammogram anyway.  Which is exactly what he did.

I promptly called to make an appointment the next day, only to be told that they needed to receive an order from my doctor before they could schedule the mammogram.  After the order is received, it takes 48 hours for the order to be entered into the system and then I could make the appointment.  Needless to say, this process took almost a week of back and forth before they finally received the order.  Only this time when I try to make the appointment, the nurse says “you are not due for a mammogram until February.”  I had to explain that I had an abnormal exam and the doctor requested it be done now.  “Oh,” she said, “then they have to send over a diagnostic order, you need to tell them to send another order.”  Upon hearing this I exploded!  I was able to speak to a manager and get them to call and get the order straightened out and finally made the appointment.

If you’ve never had a mammogram, I must warn you, it’s a bit uncomfortable.  I guess I would compare it to having a pap smear or wearing spanx—it’s uncomfortable, it’s not pretty, but it MUST be done!  It’s the equivalent to slapping your boob on a cold table and having someone press a book down on it until they can’t get it any flatter.  Oh but they can!  Now someone steps on the book!  The technician had a knob and she cranks, 1…2…3, takes the pic, it automatically releases your boob from captivity and you’re done.

After finally having the mammogram and ultrasound, I had to go through more runaround to get the results sent to my doctor. The radiologist had the wrong fax number.  Fax number?  All the technology we have and they are still faxing results? Really?  By the time the doctor got back to me, I had already received the results via snail mail.  No sign of cancer, thank God!  I took it upon myself to make a follow-up appointment with a breast specialist to find out what the lump is.  Turns out, women my age have very dense breast tissue (which can also hide tumors—see this article).  I received the same diagnosis the first time I found a lump.  But I don’t believe in self-diagnosis especially with something so critical to my health.  If you find a lump anywhere for any reason, get it checked out…period.

How fitting to experience this episode during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  Maybe this lump decided to show up at this particular time for 2 reasons:

1.  So that I could remind my friends of the importance of doing monthly self-exams and to make taking care of YOU a priority.  You can only take care of your family and those that love you if you are still here to do it.  Take a moment to make those appointments that you have been putting off and add staying healthy to your “to-do” list.  And pass this advice along to your friends and family.

2.  So that I could help you encourage those around you to become better advocates for themselves and become an advocate to someone in need.  Perhaps you are the one who needs an advocate.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Most times, it feels like health care providers and insurance companies are more concerned about their processes and procedures than they are about their patients.  Did any of them ever consider what it feels like to be a woman who has found a lump in her breast, or had a child that suddenly fell ill for no reason?  The last thing you want is to wade through a bunch of red tape to get answers.  You may have a family member or a friend who is just not equipped to deal with what it takes to navigate the healthcare system.  Help them by coming up with a list of questions to ask the doctor, going with them to appointments for support, or researching available resources.

And for those that have fought cancer and those that are still fighting, remember:

The human spirit is stronger than anything that can happen to it.  ~C.C. Scott

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Update:  Ok, I’m going to be honest here.   After sharing the story above, you would think that certainly I would be doing a routine breast exam each month.  Unfortunately, that’s still not the case.  It’s more like every two or three months–which is just not good enough.  Since my smartphone manages to help me keep track of everything else on my schedule, I’m going to see if it can help me remember to do my self-exams as well.  So I downloaded the Pink Bra iPhone app.  In addition to sending you a monthly reminder, the app gives directions and illustrations on how to perform the exam.  I’ve already set my reminder for next month. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Do you have any helpful tips on how to remember to do your monthly self-exam?

Please share this post with all of the amazing women in your life!

Follow me on twitter @herlifeinspired.

How To Make The Cutest Jack-O-Lantern Ever

Fruit Jack-O-Lantern

Candy’s not the only fun treat to enjoy on Halloween!  I make these adorable Fruit Jack-O-Lanterns each year and kids love them!  They are always a huge hit at Journey’s parties.  Follow the step-by-step directions below and be the center of attention at your Halloween bash! Continue reading

Ghosts, Goblins & Granola: 5 Alternatives to Candy for Trick-Or-Treaters

You would think that a holiday celebrated by eating candy would be among the least favorite in a household with a kid that doesn’t eat it.  But oddly enough, Journey is actually quite fond of Halloween.  She loves the decorations, the costumes and greeting trick-or-treaters.   But because my kid doesn’t eat candy, in good conscience, I don’t give it out.  Instead, I have come up with a few great alternatives to candy for Halloween trick-or-treaters to enjoy. Continue reading

How Social Media is Like High School All Over Again

After participating in Twitter’s presidential debate watch party, a friend texted me complaining that after getting nine retweets, she only got one new follower.  “Give it until the morning,” I said.  At that moment, I realized how much social media is just like high school.  My response sounded just like what I would tell my girlfriend after she waited up all night for her crush to call her.

I mean, think about it.  Joining Twitter is like being the new kid at school and trying to be down with the popular cool clique.  Being “followed” is the equivalent of having the captain of the football team ask you out.  And where he leads, the rest of the cool kids follow.  Then there’s Facebook.  Facebook is like Glee, where everyone is accepted and at least one person is guaranteed to “like” whatever you say no matter what.  Where a friend of a friend that you met at a party once is now considered your “friend.”  Google+, Flickr and all the other social networks are comparable to academic clubs.  Created by the nerds and outcasts that didn’t fit in with any of the above and decided to create their own thing.

I joined Twitter about 7 months ago.  Most of the time, I find it exhausting.  The limit of 160 characters alone can drive you crazy.  The pressure!  Be witty, be compelling, tweet often—are just some of the tips Twitter experts (and I use that term loosely) say online.  Tweet too much and you are that needy friend that calls every five minutes—unfollow!  Tweet too little, then you’re “too busy” to talk to your friends—unfollow!  And god forbid, you follow way more people than you have followers.  You might as well put a big “L” over your profile pic!  The more I thought about, the more I realized how my Twitter experience is just like high school all over again:

Twitter Me: Sitting with my finger on the send button for 10 minutes reading and re-reading my tweet to make sure it’s just right.  And two seconds after I push the button, realizing 20 ways I could have said it better.

High School Me:  Taking the time to craft a smart-ass response to the skank that wants my boyfriend if she tests me.  She does.  Then she tops my response and stumps me.  And of course, I come up with the perfect response—right after she walks away!

Twitter Me:  Sending out a prolific tweet and forgetting to add the oh so important hash tag.

High School Me:  Writing my crush a letter and forgetting to include my phone number. DUH!

Twitter Me:  Checking my account every few minutes to see if someone retweeted or followed me.

High School Me:  Checking my pager every few minutes to make sure it’s working.  The cute guy I met at the mall said he was gonna page me later.  Yes, I said page, high school was quite a while ago, ok?!

Twitter Me:  Complaining to my husband that I don’t have many followers and him responding with a supportive, “Honey, it takes time.  Building followers doesn’t happen overnight.”

High School Me:  Complaining to my mom about my non-existent boobs and her responding with a supportive, “Honey, it takes time.  Boobs don’t grow overnight.”  (By the way, she was right, maybe my husband is too!)

But in the end, my high school self reminds me that I am not defined by how many friends I have, or how many people like me.  That said, please follow me on Twitter @simonesayswhat…please:)