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First Timer Here & A Nervous Nellie

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SKWUT04
SKWUT04 Member Posts: 14
edited April 2021 in Not Diagnosed But Worried

I've been reading this forum for a couple of days and decided to share what I'm currently going through given that everyone seems so kind here and I'd love someone to "talk" to.

I was taking off a sports bra on Friday, 2/19, and just happened to knock into a lump in my right breast in the upper right quadrant/near the bottom of it. I had a moment of panic, then calmed down. I knew I was due for my period in a week or so, and while it hasn't happened in months, I've been known to have sore breasts in the lead up. I also knew it was best to wait out a menstrual cycle before panicking. I started my period on next Wednesday, 2/24, and have all but wrapped it up as of this posting. The lump is still there, but in the last few days, I've developed a pretty constant dull ache around the area it's in that sometimes spreads the love around a bit. My right breast is also a bit swollen, especially noticeable when I lay on my right side or on my stomach, although it's oddly not painful to the touch. I feel a lump, but also what feels like several smaller bumps all around it. I sort of feel something similar but not swollen on the left side, if that makes sense, but I also know boobs aren't necessarily symmetrical. As I type this, I'm having quite the ache from roughly the place where the lump is, down into my side. On occasion, it travels down my arm a bit. I especially felt that while in a spin class yesterday. It feels like the arm gets achy all the way to my fingertips.

I'm 35 with no family history of breast cancer, no children, no real substantial medical history save for an h.pylori diagnosis in September that was treated and cured. My former OB/GYN did a breast exam in September and found nothing. I'm pretty confident in saying my boobs are generally pretty lumpy and ropy, even though I don't have any official diagnosis there. I just scheduled a PCP visit for Tuesday. I also just moved from the east coast to the west coast in January for grad school, so I haven't established care here. Hell of a way to go into a first PCP visit. I initially had a telehealth visit with my school's student health center, but that felt a bit of a waste - I want someone to TOUCH IT, not tell me about it through a screen.

I'm pretty nervous about it and have diagnosed health anxiety which I see a therapist for. 6 months ago, I would have hauled myself to the ER the moment I found it in search of answers RIGHT NOW, so it's pretty under control, all things considered. Still rearing its ugly head though. I'm trying to be positive and practicing all of techniques from therapy to help me stay calm, but I haven't really shared my fears past a couple of friends so I'm feeling a bit lonely in it all. I know step one is going to the doctor. She'll tell me what to do from there.

I know I wrote a novel, so if you got this far, thank you for reading/"listening" to my concerns!

Comments

  • moderators
    moderators Posts: 8,081
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    SKWUT04, you may write many novels here, should you wish. Glad you found the source of the discomfort. Get yourself to a doctor, one you trust, to help you to determine what you are dealing with.

    We send you many virtual hugs!

    Warmly,

    Your Mods

  • beaverntx
    beaverntx Member Posts: 2,962
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    SKWUT04, joining the mods in sending hugs to you. Your "novel" indicated you are handling the situation appropriately. Glad you have some tools to help with your anxiety and that they are currently helping. Please keep us posted as you get more information.


  • beesie.is.out-of-office
    beesie.is.out-of-office Member Posts: 1,435
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    Welcome! I agree with Beaverntx that it sounds as though you are handling this well - we see a lot of posts from people who are scared and from your post, I would never have suspected that you have health anxiety. So keep doing what you are doing!

    Good luck with your appointment on Tuesday. I hope you like your new PCP and that he or she is reassuring, and gets you in for some screening. You are just hitting the age where those of us with fibrocystic breasts (that would be the lumpy and ropy stuff) start to develop cysts, so it's very possible that these lumps are nothing more than harmless cysts. I had more cysts than I can remember - some of us get lots of them.

    Let us know how it goes tomorrow. And fingers crossed that this turns out to be cysts!


  • SKWUT04
    SKWUT04 Member Posts: 14
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    Thank you so much for all of your kind words! I'm really working on the health anxiety thing. I've been very healthy my whole life, but got a kidney stone in June 2020 that was stubborn and it sent me down a spiral and inspired me to go back to therapy. Can't say enough about therapy - I believe we could all benefit from it! It's not that I'm not freaking out, but that I'm doing all the things I've got in my toolkit to manage it.

    I woke up this morning with utter pain in my right boob. It feels like it wants to fall off. I'm trying not to poke and prod it, given that after a couple of days of not touching I did a self-exam yesterday, but I rubbed my hand down it briefly and it at least feels even more lumpier/bumpier/dense. The aching is currently isolated to just the boob, but I've gotten a few moments of an almost heavy-like or numbness that runs down my arm. Heat seems to help for a moment or two, but it's also not so bad I'm willing to take drugs yet.

    Honestly leaning into the pain a bit as a "good" indicator, but also not ruling out anything until my doctor visit tomorrow. No other symptoms so far. The timing of finding the lump and then going through my period which ended yesterday... Being a lady is so hard a man couldn't do it! :)

  • SKWUT04
    SKWUT04 Member Posts: 14
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    My appointment is in a couple of hours and suffices to say the health anxiety is really kicking in. My breast is still painful and while I've been doing all the cognitive behavior techniques i've got (and they've been working), here I am, waffling between "it'll be fine" and "this is obviously IBC." Trying to stay positive and calm and know that I'm going to at least start to figure this out in the next few hours.

  • beaverntx
    beaverntx Member Posts: 2,962
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    In your pocket for your dr. appointment.

  • sunshine99
    sunshine99 Member Posts: 2,636
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    SK, hoping for a good appointment today. Will be waiting to hear how it went.

    (((hugs)))

    Carol


  • LivinLife
    LivinLife Member Posts: 301
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    SKWU - Just want to welcome you! So glad you are doing what you can to manage your anxiety - that is the goal - we all get anxious at times and it's about how we manage things - you are being effective!!!! Hope your appointment went well today- providing helpful info and/or direction for you!

  • SKWUT04
    SKWUT04 Member Posts: 14
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    Hi all!

    Thank you for all of your kind words and checking in!

    I had my appointment and my doctor was LOVELY. Very happy to make her my PCP in my new town. She took a lot of time with me, didn't rush, and spent a lot of time feeling me up, for lack of a better phrase. She said my right breast is especially full of glandular fibrous breast tissue and that she felt nothing concerning even after feeling what I was concerned about.

    Basically, she thinks my right breast got especially upset this month - which, whether its correlated or not, I DID have much worse cramps than usual. I've noted my period has been a little less predictable in recent months since I did h.pylori treatment with it coming anywhere from 26-30 days instead of its former every 28 days like clockwork. It was 2 days early this month for instance. She did put in an order for a mammogram and a ultrasound if things haven't improved in a week. I asked her what SHE would do if it were her breast and she was very candid about her own "cranky" left boob and said she would wait as long as things didn't worsen and there were no noted skin changes so I'm content to do the same.

    She did recommend I cut my caffeine intake. I LOVE coffee and usually have 2 big mugs of it in the AM and always an afternoon mug around 3pm as well. Funny enough, I did just buy half caff coffee over the weekend in an effort to reduce it. I had to go caffeine free for a couple of months during the h.pylori incident of 2020 and noted I'm more sensitive to it now and it was potentially keeping me awake at night. So my goal now is to replace the evening cup with herbal tea and use the half caff in the mornings and work my way down. I'm on spring break from grad school this week, so it's a good week to try to reduce the caff without having to sit through a 6 hour production class with a withdrawal headache!

    Her other recommendations were heat/ice as needed, Tylenol if I need it (I try to avoid ibuprofen after the h.pylori) and primrose oil which I picked up on the way home and already took a capsule of.

    I can say that the pain has decreased today when compared to yesterday so I'm hopeful she's right and I'll be doing great in a week's time. The only other noteworthy thing to report is she noticed my pec on that side felt inflamed. We're chalking that up to my newfound love of Cyclebar classes, so I'm going to lay of the choreography for a few days and let that calm down.

    Hopefully all will continue to improve from here and in a few days time, this will be a memory and I'll have a much better understanding of how my girls feel so I'll know what to look for moving forward.

    Thank you again for all your kind words and well-wishes!

  • LivinLife
    LivinLife Member Posts: 301
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    Glad things went so well with your new PCP! That is reassuring for you future with health in general while in that new town! Wow on the less, if not none at some point, caffeine while in graduate school! I lived at Starbucks, at times, during my grad school days or the student centers which meant coffee or soda too lol Good for you! Best to you!

  • SKWUT04
    SKWUT04 Member Posts: 14
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    Popping back in with an update and because this feels like a safe space to share my worries/vent. I had minimal pain my last cycle in the above mentioned spot. It was tender, especially if I bumped against it, but it was nothing like the previous month when I found the lump. I'd also cut my caffeine intake drastically and also noted that while I could still feel the offending lump, it felt smaller during what I like to refer to as it's "off cycle" time.

    Fast forward to now.

    I had my annual physical last week (April 1) and my doctor noted the following about my breasts:

    Breasts: Breasts are symmetrical.

    Right: Mass (mobile mass 9 o'clock 0.5cm well circumsribed, mobile tender) and tenderness present. No inverted nipple, nipple discharge or skin change.
    Left: Mass (mobile mass 3 o'clock <0.5cm well circumsribed, mobile tende) and tenderness present. No inverted nipple, nipple discharge or skin change.

    That was right around ovulation, according to my period tracker. During the exam she said the right one was 1cm or so and that I could have a cluster of cysts there. She is very confident that its a cyst and was reassuring with her opinion.

    Over the last few days, the pain has made a comeback. It's tender to the touch, feels a little swollen, and just won't quit. It's a dull ache sometimes, a throbbing/burning others. I'm 7 days out from my period per my tracker, so I know it's most likely related to that, but its very much isolated to the 9:00 place in my right boob. Left boob is behaving itself.

    She had given me the option for a diagnostic mammogram and right ultrasound during my first visit and I ended up scheduling them today. They're not until the 27th, but I'm riding the health anxiety waves as my therapist would say. Health anxiety is an OCD-like diagnosis and sometimes... you just gotta google. (Pro tip: "Worry on a schedule" - I give myself 10 minutes to catastrophize, then I rest the time and can't worry/google for X hours - it's helpful!) My rational brain knows statistics are on my side, but sometimes that rational side has to really fight to be heard.

    I'm also SUPER emotional and snippy which is the one PMS sign I can count on every month, so I needed to "vent." Thanks for letting me write another novel! (I'm in grad school for screenwriting - writing is kind of my thing!)

  • OnTarget
    OnTarget Member Posts: 124
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    Sorry you are stressing and that you have to wait! Waiting is the worst! Luckily, most bumps are benign! I hope you can find stress free ways to pass the time.

  • salamandra
    salamandra Member Posts: 736
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    Aww, it sounds like this is really making you exercise your self-care skills! And it sounds like you are doing great!

    I'm also honestly a little jealous of your health care team! I like ok the docs I have now, but I once for a short time had a doc I LOVED and a therapist I LOVED... and then I moved away!

    Good luck!!

  • SKWUT04
    SKWUT04 Member Posts: 14
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    I actually moved away from my therapist and former doctor too! I'm new to the west coast and I found a PCP I like, but haven't found a therapist yet. Health Anxiety is a battle - Last night I was convinced I have a swollen lymph node right on the outside of the crook of where my arm and shoulder meet and down the spiral I went. It could be swollen, it might not be. It's not so obvious either way. But I had to give myself permission to Google for 10 minutes, then head to bed - worry on a schedule. I'll be able to distract myself today with all my to-dos, but I have also made plans to meditate and calm myself later.

    It's a tough road to walk with health anxiety. A lot of people don't understand it or say things like "it's all in your head or "stop googling." It's truly not that easy, especially when you do have a genuine concern like this lump. But we'll get there. Lots of reminding myself that there's nothing I can do except wait and trust the process. Lots of "the odds are in my favor" followed by "but what if..." followed by "maybe the cyst is hiding something...." followed by "the odds are in my favor." Rinse and repeat.

  • LivinLife
    LivinLife Member Posts: 301
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    I love, love, love the time limits you give yourself to do what you feel compelled to do and then stopping until "it's time again." Soooo healthy to have those boundaries in both ways - great coping tool. You'll likely be using it quite a bit more the next couple of weeks unfortunately.... I'm glad you found us too b/c we can be, and apparently are, another great coping tool : ) This might be the time to to write a story of some kind - your background - another place to focus energy though grad school is likely giving you more than you need of that....

  • SKWUT04
    SKWUT04 Member Posts: 14
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    The limits are a great thing! The offending spot - as I'm now calling it - is quite swollen as of now. I can usually only feel it when I lay down with my arm raised, but this is the second month of around my period being able to feel it just casually touching the area. It is quite uncomfortable this morning, but I'm hopeful it goes away with my period in another 5 or so days, but also eager to see what's in there as it makes even my armpit feel swollen. Still proud of my left breast for behaving!

  • LivinLife
    LivinLife Member Posts: 301
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    Wondering if icing briefly would help? As difficult as it is try not to fool with it otherwise - I know it's kind of like that sore in your cheek you can't help touching with your tongue though any messing with it will likely aggravate it....

  • SKWUT04
    SKWUT04 Member Posts: 14
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    Icing does help! I've been doing that and taking Tylenol if needed. It feels like if someone just stuck a needle in there and popped it, it would go away. It did start acting up after my doctor messed with it which happened to be the same day I ovulated and has gotten a little more cranky each day. 5 days out from my period and (hopeful) relief, but it moves up into my armpit and makes it feel swollen too. I'm also trying not to mess with it. I wore a strapless bra with underwire a couple of times over the last few days though and I think that further made things angry. It's right there on the outside exactly where the underwire would rub.

    I'll say it again - being a woman is tough.

  • SKWUT04
    SKWUT04 Member Posts: 14
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    Hi all!

    Checking in. I can now say I'm getting my mammo/US on Tuesday instead of "in two weeks" or "ten days." Health anxiety has been pretty well controlled.

    My doctor encouraged me to feel my breasts just around the start of my period, again towards the end of it, and then again 3-4 days later. I'm on the very tail end of my period for the month and WOW the way my breasts changed in a matter of two weeks. I can definitely feel the difference in the lump too. It's still "big," but has shrunk notably which I'm choosing to view as a good sign. Today, which was "feel it" day anyway, I noted I felt discomfort around the front of my arm pit, right where my breast connects with my armpit. I found a pretty large, soft, moveable something I haven't felt before, but I didn't freak out. Going in on Tuesday anyway, right? Again, it's soft and moves so I'm taking that as a good sign, not sure if its a lymph node or not.

    But to add to the fun, I had a horrible gluten rash outbreak. I knew I was gluten-sensitive and likely celiac, so I eat very little gluten. My 35th birthday was a couple of weeks ago and long story short, I went on a gluten bender and this rash was no joke. At the 2 week mark (Sunday) I caved and accepted the steroids I was prescribed. They've helped tremendously, but I hate taking those things, so there's lots going on with my body right now. At least I'm not itching like crazy anymore?

    Thanks for letting me have a little "dear diary" moment! Praying all of this turns out okay.

  • SKWUT04
    SKWUT04 Member Posts: 14
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    My scans are tomorrow! I'm definitely beginning to worry/panic. I'm at the end of my allotted "worry time" for today, but it's going to be a trudge. The health anxiety is fighting hard to be heard! Thankfully my appointment is early. I'm going to a Women's Center, so I'm praying they'll be able to tell me at least something on the spot while waiting for a final report.

    Pro: The offending lump feels smaller now that my period is behind me, but con, the pain hasn't gone away. It was more or less non-existent yesterday, but it's been vocal toady. Confession though: I've been feeling the area a lot. I wonder/assume it's possible to irritate/bruise the tissue.

    I know I'm preaching to the choir, but it's been tough. One minute I'm sure its benign, the next I'm sure it's not, and all the time I'm reminding myself I'm not a doctor and can't make any of these determinations.

    Health anxiety is a real peach. But now my worry time is up and it's the last week of school for the year, so I have no choice but to turn my attention to work. Thanks for listening!


  • salamandra
    salamandra Member Posts: 736
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    Sounds like you're doing all the right things SKWUT04.

    Hang in there!

  • Poppy_90
    Poppy_90 Member Posts: 84
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    I’ll be thinking of you tomorrow. Keep us posted

  • SKWUT04
    SKWUT04 Member Posts: 14
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    Thank you everyone for your kind words and encouragement!

    I was oddly calm about my scans until it was actually time for my mammo and then I had a 30 second panic attack. I pulled it together and got on with it. They took two images of each breast and had me wait to see if more imaging was needed. Of course it was. They took an additional image on each side. Then I went to ultrasound where I was pleasantly surprised to find they warm the gel. Little things. I was only down for a right breast US, but they did both because my PCP had documented feeling a cyst on my left. They were most certainly thorough.

    In the end?

    "An island of dense breast tissue."

    The doctor that came in described it exactly as that. She said it's almost like a hill in my breast. They saw absolutely nothing of concern and she chalked my pain up to both hormonal changes and to the fact that I've been pushing and prodding it a LOT which I confessed to.

    I'm eager to read the report when it's posted, but I was relieved. With the additional imaging and the left side being subjected to an ultrasound too, I was starting to brace for at least a biopsy. The doctor walked in and the first thing out of her mouth was "everything is fine."

    I feel like they took good care of me and got images that went above what I was down for. I'm to "stop poking it" and to cut back my caffeine which I'll admit, did seem to make a difference cycle before last when I was drinking decaf. Then the caffeine crept back in...

    I'm still "ouchy," but willing to trust the images and the doctors who know a lot more than me.

    Thank you all for your kind words and support!

  • salamandra
    salamandra Member Posts: 736
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    Yay! and so proud of you for grappling with the anxiety beast and winning this battle :)

  • LivinLife
    LivinLife Member Posts: 301
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    Awesome SKW!!! So happy for you! Thanks for letting us know. Hopefully you can really enjoy the rest of your week and weekend now - make those especially special!

  • SKWUT04
    SKWUT04 Member Posts: 14
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    Thanks all! It was a long couple of months. I promised myself I'd buy new bras when all of this was said and done - realized I haven't bought a new not sports bra in a hot minute during all of this! - and so that's what my plan is these next few days!