Don’t Be Afraid of the Doctor — or Yourself

I had a friend recently who told me that she found a lump in her breast not too long ago. She explained that she knew she should call the doctor, but had been procrastinating because she was afraid that the news might be bad.

I told her to stop dragging her feet.

Sometimes, you just need to be up front with people. Breast cancer is not something you drag your feet with. I know so many women who are lucky they caught it when they did — women who, if they had waited any longer, probably would have died. Women who wouldn’t have even had the option of surgery.

I didn’t, however, believe my friend’s lump was cancerous, but stressed to her the importance of being proactive in her own health. She made an appointment as soon as I nagged her and was soon relieved to find out the lump was not, in fact, cancerous.

I have to admit, I do give her props for simply doing a self-breast exam. Most women our age — the 20-something workaholics that we are — find it especially hard to take care of ourselves in the present, yet alone be proactive for the future. We have demanding, low-paying jobs in our fields, a norm for the times. We can remember to grovel for a raise, but not do a self-breast exam. Which just goes to show what’s wrong with the American work model. But we won’t go there, today.

I, myself, found a lump in my breast this past July. No worries — it was benign. And I’m not sharing this in an attempt to claim I know what people with cancer go through. I only know secondhand. But I did watch ovarian cancer take my grandma from us, and although she was 86, I still felt like I didn’t have enough time with her. I know what the thin, putrid vomiting from chemo looks like. I know a lot of women lose their appetite because they can’t taste anything. My grandma would only ever eat vanilla milkshakes from McDonald’s. They were the only food item she could both taste and get enough calories from to keep her moving.

The point of all this rambling is that most of us will probably, at least once in our lives, find a lump somewhere. The point is to not come by it by accident but on purpose. Live life purposefully. Don’t pussyfoot around the hard stuff simply because it’s hard. Tackle it head on. Be your own warrior. Feel your boobies.

How to Do a Self-Breast Exam -- infographic from the Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers Association

How to Do a Self-Breast Exam — infographic from the Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers Association