For the last couple of months, I have been extremely busy with work, photography jobs and running. During all that, I came across a lump in my abdomen which gave me pause. I initially felt the lump in April when I was participating at Atlanta’s Ragnar Relay. The small lump is located near my left ribs, and the very thought of a lump near my ribs worried me. Still, I gave it a wait-and-see month period because the lump presented without any pain.
After a month went by, I decided to be a good little cancer patient and get the lump checked out. When you’ve had cancer, you just can’t let unexplained lumps go unchecked. Unfortunately, my beloved breast surgeon retired last year, which meant finding a new doctor to add to my doctor roster. In a perfect world, my beloved breast surgeon would stay on forever and ever, but alas. You have to roll with the changes.
I ended up seeing a surgeon that looked to be my age or even younger, which threw me for a loop. All of my surgeons have so far been old enough to my grandparents. Grey’s Anatomy would lead you all to believe that all surgeons look like Patrick Dempsey or Katherine Heigl. In my experience, all the surgeons I have had are more like an episode of Golden Girls (without the sass of Sophia, unfortunately).
The surgeon felt the lump and immediately told me that the lump was just a lipoma (i.e. a benign tumor of fatty tissue.). Oh thank God.
During that week of my appointment, I felt anxious and worried. I also felt angry. Why must my body keep forming unexplained lumps? Is that my super power after all this radiation and chemotherapy? More lumps and tests to see what my insides just formed now? Why can’t my body flourish and create actual life, not just the occasional tumor? I can run a dozen half marathons, but now and then, I’m reminded that life isn’t always fair and my health could possibly be taken from me.
I consider myself blessed and very lucky that this turned out to be nothing. If the lipoma gets bigger and causes discomfort, then I can have it removed. It’s been almost five years since my diagnosis, and I have continued to remain no evidence of disease. I thank my lucky stars every day, and when the next scare comes along, I will deal with that one, too.
In the meantime, I want to focus on those who haven’t been as lucky as me. Those with metastatic breast cancer need to be at the forefront of every conversation when it comes to breast cancer. How can we help those living with stage 4 to keep their disease at bay and live years without any disease progression? Every year, approximately 40,000 women (and men) die of this disease, and that needs to change. Pink is not a cure, and 108 die every day.