Meeting with a Breast Specialist and Decisions, Decisions, Decisions {My Breast Lump Journey}

Black blobs.

Cloudy white spots.

my breast lump journey, i found a lump in my breast, breast cancer, fibroadenoma tumor, fibrocystic breast disease, breast biopsy, breast lump removal,

I can’t seem to shake the images of my diagnostic mammogram and ultrasound films from my mind.

I’m still traveling along this breast lump journey of mine and I’m not quite sure how long, narrow or perilous this road will be as I head to who-knows-where.

my breast lump journey, i found a lump in my breast, breast cancer, fibroadenoma tumor, fibrocystic breast disease, breast biopsy, breast lump removal,Last week, I left the comfort of my small town and headed a few hours west to meet with a specialist at a breast care center about the new breast lumps I recently discovered. (I discovered a lump in the same breast just four months prior. Following a diagnostic mammogram and ultrasound, I was diagnosed with a benign fibroadenoma tumor. Several weeks ago, I was diagnosed with fibrocystic breast disease as well.) The specialist, Dr. Gibson, examined both breasts and carefully reviewed the diagnostic mammogram and ultrasound films, along with the radiologist’s reports. Then he told me something that I wasn’t quite prepared for.

The benign fibroadenoma tumor diagnosis I received back in January wasn’t entirely accurate.

It appears that the only thing the initial diagnostic mammogram and ultrasound films reveal is that I have a mass in my left breast, which has continued to grow. Whether or not it’s a fibroadenoma tumor and whether or not it’s cancerous cannot be accurately determined unless a biopsy or removal of the mass is performed.

Translation: I have been carrying a mass in my left breast for the last four months and there’s a possibility that it could be cancerous.

I’m upset. I’m scared. I’m paranoid about the fact that this mass has increased in size. I’m annoyed that I was given a diagnosis that isn’t entirely accurate. But I’m still just as determined as ever to fight, to stay strong, to find some kind of silver lining in these dark clouds.

And I’m determined to keep smiling.

my breast lump journey, i found a lump in my breast, breast cancer, fibroadenoma tumor, fibrocystic breast disease, breast biopsy, breast lump removal,

I’m heading back to the breast center again in couple of weeks to undergo another diagnostic mammogram and ultrasound. Dr. Gibson needs to determine whether or not the new breast lumps are harmless cysts or new masses that need to be biopsied or removed.

Speaking of biopsies and removals, I’ve an important decision to make.

Over the next two weeks, I’ll need to decide whether or not I’d like to have a biopsy performed on the growing, unknown mass in my left breast or whether I’d like to go ahead with surgical removal of the mass as Dr. Gibson recommended.

I’ve undergone a breast lump removal once before. Pain won’t deter me. Scars don’t scare me. Neither does the thought of having deformed breasts. I just don’t care about having perfect breasts anymore.

I care about being here for every single moment of my children’s lives.

I care about growing old with the man I made a promise to four years ago.

I care about living.

Period.

I’m curious, if you were in my red Converse clad shoes what would you do? Request a biopsy on a mass that continues to grow, monitoring it for the duration of your life? Or would you undergo a removal of the mass instead?

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again… Nearly 70% of all breast cancers are found through self-exams. They’re quick, painless and could very well save your life. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t be performing monthly breast self-exams. You owe it to yourself, and the people you love, to monitor your breast health!

56 Comments

  1. by DaenelT on March 27, 2012  12:26 pm Reply

    Kristi, I've never discussed my own "breast discharge journey" because it's weird and uncomfortable but I will share it. I think women need to move beyond weird and uncomfortable to happy and healthy. But I will tell you I chose to have tissue removed from both breasts and I do have small scars on both breasts but I'm still here with my kids and my husband.

    • by Kristi on March 27, 2012  9:15 pm Reply

      So true! It's important to move beyond the uncomfortable to share our journeys. Please do let me know when you decide to share. I'd love to read about it. Thanks for sharing about having the tissue removal done on both breasts. I have an ugly scar on my left breast from the lump removal that was done when I was 19, but like you I could care less. I'm here with my family. I'll do whatever needs to be done to stick around for as long as possible. As always, thanks for the support, Daenel! :)

  2. by Jaymi on March 27, 2012  12:39 pm Reply

    wow Kristi I'm so sorry you are going through is. I can't begin to put myself in your shoes and I have no medical or personal experience to base this advice on, but my gut says, if its growing, it should be removed, period. Cancerous or not, if it's getting bigger, there's no reason not to think it won't KEEP getting bigger. And isn't there also a possibility that something benign could become cancerous? Especially with your history, I would err on the side of caution. My thoughts are with you, and I know you will decide whatever is best for you! :)

    • by Kristi on March 27, 2012  9:20 pm Reply

      Thanks for the support, Jaymi. You are so sweet! Yes, it can and probably will continue to grow. And yes, depending on what mass is, it can become cancerous in the future. Decisions, decisions!

  3. by April Forshee on March 27, 2012  12:40 pm Reply

    While I haven't had to go through this before, I have always said that I would have whatever it is removed. If I am ever diagnosed with breast cancer, mastectomy is the first choice. I mean, they are just boobs. You CAN get more!

    • by Kristi on March 27, 2012  9:22 pm Reply

      So true! They are just boobs and you can always get more. lol Thanks for the chuckle, April. I certainly appreciate it. :) By the way, were your ears ringing today? Because I was just talking about you this morning. Will be emailing you soon!

  4. by Lisa @ Oh Boy Oh Boy Oh Boy on March 27, 2012  12:44 pm Reply

    At 34 years old, I have already been slightly down this road. From diagnostic mammo, u/s and then ducto-something or other for one issue to diagnostic mammo and u/s for another. It's so scary. Since my mom had her first Dx for breast cancer at 41 and passed away two years ago after her third battle, the decision would be easy for me, removal! I think it's fabulous that you're sharing so openly. I shared some after the fact but didn't want to seem like the boy who cried wolf by reporting every issue I have as it seems I will likely be in for a lifetime of testing! But for every faithful blogger who shares their story I can only imagine how many woman are touched by it!

    • by Kristi on March 27, 2012  9:34 pm Reply

      Lisa, I'm so sorry that you've had to go through this and that you've lost your mother to breast cancer. That makes me so sad. :( I've decided that I definitely won't share the mundane little details as I continue along this journey. And really, I'm hoping that it's a short little journey. That it'll end soon and I'll never have to go on this ride again, but only time will tell. Thanks so much for your support and for sharing part of your story as well. Best of luck to you as you deal with this lifelong issue.

  5. by Kimberly on March 27, 2012  12:50 pm Reply

    Kristi - I am so sorry to hear this latest news! It is hard to say precisely what I would do if in your shoes, but I would more than likely go for the mass-removal surgery. Having a mother who is a breast-cancer survivor, and being at a greater risk myself because of that, I would ere on the side of caution. Please know that you will be in my prayers no matter what you choose!

    • by Kristi on March 27, 2012  9:41 pm Reply

      Thank you so much for the support and prayers, Kimberly. I so appreciate it. :)

  6. by Carla Bornhoft on March 27, 2012  12:58 pm Reply

    I'm so sorry you continue to have to go through all of this. If it were me in your Converse shoes, I would remove the entire mass! I'd want to be done with it :) I hope the right answer for you comes soon. Know I'm thinking about you and praying for your health <3

    • by Kristi on March 27, 2012  9:45 pm Reply

      Aw, me and my Converses thank you Carla! I'll take all the support and prayers I can get! :)

  7. by Barbara on March 27, 2012  1:01 pm Reply

    Oh Kristi, I do feel for you after what you thought was such good news. Obviously it has to be your decision alone but I think I'd go with what the Specialist recommends and have it removed. Hugs to you xx

    • by Kristi on March 27, 2012  9:49 pm Reply

      Thanks, Barbara! I was definitely disappointed and shocked to receive the news. Hopefully things works out for the best! Thanks for the hugs. I could definitely use one right now. :)

  8. by Rachel on March 27, 2012  1:43 pm Reply

    I am so sorry that you are going through this. I think if it were me I would 100% have the mass removed. God luck with your decision. Xxoo

    • by Kristi on March 27, 2012  9:51 pm Reply

      Thanks so much, Rachel! Your support means a lot to me. :)

  9. by Paula Kiger on March 27, 2012  2:12 pm Reply

    As always, I appreciate how incredibly open you have been with all of this - it requires candor, courage, and sacrifice. I hate recommending something when I am not wearing converses but all things equal I would go for removal. I find myself asking why they can't speed up a biopsy so you have a bit more information to work with (maybe I have missed a detail along the way.....) - that way even if removal is what you end up doing you know in advance exactly what was being removed. I think I shared with you that 11 years ago when I was around 36, I had a "suspicious" mass via mammogram (I had not produced a lot of milk in one breast so as soon as I waited the requisite months after stopping nursing, I had the mammogram then started on my odyssey). I waited a month for a needle biopsy, at which point they COULDN'T FIND IT AGAIN. I know your situation is different - it is tangible and palpable what you are dealing with. Anyway, sitting in the surgeon's office waiting for an appointment, a lady was chronicling a lifetime of coming back to that same office to have various things removed/dealt with. If you are starting down a long and complex road, I'd lean toward having less mass in the breast to deal with - one less thing and although there would need to be grieving about the physical changes, that's nothing compared to more years with your family. Love ya.

    • by Kristi on March 27, 2012  10:04 pm Reply

      Paula, you've been such a sweet and supportive friend. I'm so grateful for that! About the biopsy/removal debate... The thing is, if I decide to undergo a removal, the biopsy will just be one more invasive (possibly unnecessary) procedure since the mass will be tested once removed anyway. I don't know that the biopsy will matter at this point, especially if I decide to go through with the removal. I just have a lot to think about. Thanks for your insight, advice and again, for your support. :)

  10. by Mary Cardini-Anderson on March 27, 2012  2:21 pm Reply

    I have not had a prognosis of lumps in my breasts. My mother however did. She had a mass and had her breast removed. Her mass was cancerous which is why I think she had it removed. It was a very personal decision for her. I have my mamogram every other year and I do check for lumps myself. If I was told that I had a mass I would have it removed due to the history of cancer in my family. I can only imagine how difficult this must be for you. My thoughts and prayers are with you. Thank you very much for sharing your journey with all of us. I am so happy to hear that your smiling despite what your going through.

    Mary

    • by Kristi on March 27, 2012  10:05 pm Reply

      Thank you so much for the support and prayers, Mary, and for sharing your story with me as well. :)

  11. by Tayarra on March 27, 2012  2:32 pm Reply

    Because I have been there before I would say with full confidence i would remove it. As you know it's no guarantee you wont be sitting in this same position in another 4 years, but at least you dealt with it. At least you got this one out and it can bring you peace in some aspects.

    • by Kristi on March 27, 2012  10:07 pm Reply

      So true, Tayarra! Thanks for pointing that out and for your kindness, friendship and support as well. It means so much to me. :)

    • by Kristi on March 27, 2012  10:19 pm Reply

      Thanks, Sarah! I appreciate it. :)

  12. by Maya on March 27, 2012  2:53 pm Reply

    I am so angry at the inaccurate diagnosis you received! Have you considered calling your former doctor and letting her know what's going on? If it were me I'd do the biopsy and go from there. Correct me if I'm wrong (please!) but you've had one removed before and masses have come back, so it sounds like you're going to need monitoring for the rest of your life regardless. I usually error for the least invasive option: a biopsy probably has fewer complications and risks than a surgery does. That said, is there a high risk that the mass could be benign now and become cancerous later? Is that why they've suggested removal? And will removing it mean it won't come back? Those are the questions I'd ask. If there is a high chance a benign mass could turn into cancer and a low rate of recurrence with surgery, *then* I'd opt for surgery. But that is me, and I'm looking at it through my lens (cancer in the family and I've had complications with nearly any surgery I've ever had). Whichever you decide is the right decision for YOU and I support you 100%, friend.

    • by Kristi on March 27, 2012  11:09 pm Reply

      I'm angry too! I was reeling when I peeked at the reports and noticed the discrepancy between what it said and what I was actually told. I was even more upset when the specialist said what I already knew, that the initial diagnosis isn't accurate. I've thought about calling my former doctor and I'm sure I will at some point, but it would require more energy than I really have right now. As far as needing monitoring for the rest of my life, that's a definite with the fibrocystic breast disease. As far as the mass, we don't know if it'll be a recurring thing. We don't know if it's related to the previous mass that was removed when I was 19. And we don't know what kind of mass it is either. It's very possible that it could go from being benign to becoming malignant in the future. And yes, that's the reason for the specialist's recommendation in addition to the fact that the mass has increased in size over the last 4 months. Removing it won't guarantee that it won't come back. But, if I did opt for a removal and they determined that the mass was cancerous or if it recurred, I'd absolutely without question have a mastectomy.

      *sigh*

      Maya, I so appreciate your advice and all the questions you've asked. You've given me a lot to think about. I know that if there's anyone who could offer sage advice when it comes to making decisions like this, it's you. Thank you for caring, thank you for the support and thank you for being such a sweet friend. :)

  13. by Lisa Riley on March 27, 2012  3:14 pm Reply

    Thank you for sharing. I too have fibrocystic breast disease, as does my mom. She's had probably 10 needle biopsies. I'm blessed to have had none so far. My mother-in-law was a breast cancer survivor of 17 years. Breast cancer did not kill her, but cancer did. My aunt was a 10 years, triple survivor.

    Get the mass out. It can't grow if it's not there anymore! God Bless you for being brave enough to share!

    • by Kristi on March 27, 2012  10:23 pm Reply

      Wow! Sounds like there's a lot of cancer in your family! Any advice or pointers on the fibrocystic breast disease? This is new for me. I've heard that cutting out caffeine and taking vitamin E supplements help. Is there any truth to that?

      Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing, Lisa! :)

  14. by bree on March 27, 2012  5:17 pm Reply

    **hugs**

    • by Kristi on March 27, 2012  10:25 pm Reply

      Thanks for the hugs, Bree! :)

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  16. by Becca - Our Crazy Boys on March 27, 2012  8:39 pm Reply

    I am so sorry. I wish I could give you a HUGE hug. And if it were me, I'd have it taken out.

    :(

    • by Kristi on March 27, 2012  10:27 pm Reply

      You know I'm going to take you up on the huge hug offer as soon as I see you again, right? Oh and margaritas. You mentioned margaritas in one of your text messages. I'll be holding you to that as well! :P Thanks for being such a sweet and supportive friend, Becca. My boob and I are forever grateful and lucky to have you as a friend! :)

  17. by Sarah on March 27, 2012  9:18 pm Reply

    I will be praying for you. You are amazing.

    • by Kristi on March 27, 2012  10:29 pm Reply

      Thank you so much for the prayers, Sarah! :)

  18. by Lisa on March 27, 2012  10:56 pm Reply

    I have not experienced anything like this and we are about the same age. If it was me, I would want it OUT. Good luck with your decision. I will be thinking of you and hoping for the best.

    • by Kristi on March 27, 2012  11:12 pm Reply

      Thank you so much, Lisa!

  19. by Gina on March 28, 2012  8:29 am Reply

    Well- you know my stance on this whole thing. My heart is heavy knowing that you are dealing with this. I support you in all your decisions & pray for you everyday!

    • by Kristi on April 3, 2012  4:06 pm Reply

      Thank you, Gina! You've been so sweet and so supportive and I really appreciate that. My appointment is coming up next week and I'm definitely getting a bit nervous. Thanks for the prayers. I need them! Take care, my sweet friend.

  20. by alicia on March 28, 2012  11:11 am Reply

    Hugs, my friend. You're strong and I know whatever you decide you'll be fine.

    • by Kristi on April 3, 2012  4:17 pm Reply

      Thanks, Lish! You've been such a supportive friend through all of this. :)

  21. by alissa apel on March 28, 2012  11:44 am Reply

    I would want it gone, removed. I'm so sorry you've had to go through this!!! I am glad you got a second doctor to look at you. Keep your head up.

    • by Kristi on April 3, 2012  4:17 pm Reply

      Thank you so much, Alissa!

  22. by candice on March 28, 2012  12:42 pm Reply

    I would want it gone! Prayers for you mama! PS you look great!

    • by Kristi on April 3, 2012  4:18 pm Reply

      Prayers and a compliment? Love it! Seriously though... Thank you, Candice! I'll take all the prayers (and compliments) I can get.

  23. by Allison on March 28, 2012  2:10 pm Reply

    Kristi, I'm so sorry, I know how scary this must be. I just said a prayer for you, for wisdom and guidance, but most of all peace and protection. I had the milk ducts of my left breast removed 2 years ago. It was alot of testing and waiting from October til August when I finally had my surgery. So many scenarios play out in your mind when you have a family to worry about. Try not to let your mind run ahead of you...Glad to read your post about spending time with your family, the pictures are sweet and I'm sure it was a blessing to you.
    I'm also glad you are sharing your story, it helps us all be proactive about out health.
    God bless,
    Allison

    • by Kristi on April 3, 2012  4:20 pm Reply

      Thank you so much, Allison. It's so good to know that you can relate to what I'm going through. It makes me feel less alone. I'm hoping that you the problems you experienced with your breasts a few years ago don't resurface and that you're able to just live your life without the fear you probably know all too well. Thanks again for your prayers and for taking the time to leave me a comment. :)

  24. by Camille on March 28, 2012  2:38 pm Reply

    Well I don't know as much about the options as you and the pros and cons of each choice... But I'd probably have it removed.

    Good luck, I hope your breast lump journey comes to an end soon. I had a scare recently which turned out to be a fatty lump so it was nothing. I can only imagine how this is for you. And thank you for sharing it with the world because raising awareness is so important.

    • by Kristi on April 3, 2012  4:21 pm Reply

      I'm so glad to hear that your scare was just fatty tissue! Thanks so much for sharing and for your support, Camille! :)

  25. by Kristy Life n Reflection Photography on March 28, 2012  3:39 pm Reply

    There you go being such trooper again! I adore you for your honesty and strength!
    I'd have to vote removal, better piece of mind.

    • by Kristi on April 3, 2012  4:53 pm Reply

      Thanks, Kristy! You've been such a great source of support and a sweet friend. Thanks for supporting me in this journey and for your prayers as well. :)

  26. by Through the Lens of Kimberly Gauthier, Photography Blog on April 2, 2012  10:58 pm Reply

    Kristi -
    I had my first mammogram this year. They detected a mass and I had to come back for a second look. It didn't feel great, but I wasn't as afraid as I could have been, because of your journey. I remember when you first posted about your mammogram and I kept that memory with me when I returned. Mine was a false alarm. Thank you for sharing this with us, because you saved me from 36 hours of pure hell, because I felt so un-alone during my time.

    Kimberly

    • by Kristi on April 3, 2012  5:15 pm Reply

      I can't tell you how much your comment means to me, Kimberly. It's always been my hope to reach at least woman, to encourage her to take charge of her health and to feel less alone during scares like yours. I'm so glad that it all turned out to be a false alarm for you. I certainly hope that your mammograms are uneventful from here on out!

      Thanks again, Kimberly. You brought a smile to my face. :)

  27. by secret mom thoughts on April 9, 2012  2:02 pm Reply

    Sorry you are going through this. It must be a hard decision to make. My gut says to remove it but I'm not in your shoes. Good luck.

  28. by Angie Kinghorn on April 9, 2012  2:46 pm Reply

    I'm so sorry you're dealing with all of this! And the waiting--how awful. I hope they can get on with it and get you some news as soon as possible.

    It's hard to put myself in your Converse, and only you can know what's right for you, but I'd lean towards removing the whole thing, especially if it's growing. But listen to your heart and your doctor. You'll make the right choice for you.

    I'll be keeping you and your family in my prayers. Hugs.

  29. by Liz on April 11, 2012  5:52 am Reply

    I have been following your journey on Instagram but I hadn't read this post on your blog. I understand your fear & your desire to be around for your kids no matter what. I think I mentioned on your Instagram post that my Mum is a two time breast cancer survivor. I am so proud of her. Her history meant that I have been having yearly mammograms since I was 35. The last 3 years, I have been having mammograms every 6 months. I have fibrocystic breast disease too and it has caused numerous problems. Almost every visit in the last 3 years has involved aspiration of very large cysts & sometimes a biopsy. My last trip to the breast centre was over half a day. I was scheduled for a routine mammogram but a suspicious lump meant an ultrasound and a further mammogram. I was beside myself & in tears as no one would tell me anything until the end.
    I had decided as a 30 year old (after my Mum's two masectomies) that if I find one cancerous lump, both my breast will go. I could not go through what my mum did and I love my kids, my husband & life too much!
    It's scary and uncertain but know that you have one supporter over in Australia who is thinking of you and praying for you. You are a wonderful person Kristi!! :)

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