What Do You Do When You Find a Weird Lump in Your Breast?

First, call your mom and cry. Then undergo absurd, terrifying tests. And then wait...and wait...and wait.
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A few months before your 31st birthday you'll be lying in bed holding Animal Farm in one hand and idly examining your boobs with the other. With a start, you'll notice something that resembles a robin's egg rolling around under the skin of your left nipple. You'll keep touching it for the rest of the day, and when your boyfriend comes over you'll ask him to look at it. He'll say, "Yeah, hmm." He'll dump you the day after you find out you need surgery to remove it.

You'll make an appointment with your gynecologist, and she'll have the same "Yeah, hmm" reaction your dude did, only she'll also hand you a slip of paper ordering you to go to the hospital for a mammogram. You've never had a mammogram, so you'll be kind of freaked out but mostly curious whether it's as bad as you think it'll be.

When they finally get you in for an appointment, you'll find out that yep -- it's actually worse than you imagined. Your breast will be smashed impossibly flat, between two thick plastic (cold!) plates. You'll wonder if the thing in your boob is going to burst from the pressure. What's even in it? Can it burst? Can your whole boob burst? It feels like it might.

A few days after that they'll call to tell you the test was inconclusive, because you have dense breast tissue and that makes mammograms not work or something and now you'll need an ultrasound. This will be the best news.

It will be followed by some not-so-great news. The next thing the nurse will say is that they need to schedule a biopsy. "Don't worry, it's a quick appointment. We just use a needle to take a sample of the lump in order to figure out what it is." You'll repeat this to your therapist, and she'll order you to bring a friend because she has secret knowledge of what is about to happen to you.

Continued on page 2:  The Appointment


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