What Would You Do If You Found a Lump in Your Breast?

Living with Triple-Negative Breast Cancer
(#24 in a series)

What would you do if you found a lump in your breast? I called a doctor, but not everyone agrees that was the right decision.

Some readers said I shouldn’t have reached out to the medical community, shouldn’t have had surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation. I say it’s a personal decision, one we must each make based on our individual case. I told my story but do not give medical advice, unless you consider my plea to check your own breasts or to at least talk to a doctor to be medical advice.

Of breast lumps and doctors
I believe wholeheartedly in making healthy lifestyle choices and pursuing natural ways to remain healthy. Sometimes less is more when it comes to modern medicine, but I sure wouldn’t want to be without it. Positive thinking helps in a million and one ways, especially with day-to-day coping, but positive thinking alone won’t cure cancer.

It doesn’t have to be an either/or thing. You can seek medical treatment and use complementary treatments. You can still drop bad habits and pick up better habits. There are many types of cancer, different stages, and lots of individual circumstances that make your case unique. Call a doctor. Research. Then decide on your course of action.

The triple-negative breast cancer series: why I chronicled my story
October 14, 2010 — I discovered a lump in my breast that day. You don’t forget a moment like that, especially when it leads to a diagnosis of triple-negative breast cancer.

Is it just me? Am I facing these feelings about cancer alone? I write about triple-negative breast cancer for the same reason I write about multiple sclerosis. Because we live in a world where far too many of us feel alone. Because it’s not just you, and it helps to know that.

Writing about yourself is a challenging experience. You become both empowered and supremely vulnerable. As I chronicled my experiences, I was embraced in a warm, collective hug and took some virtual slaps, but positive response far outweighed the negative. I chose to focus on the hug. That’s part of positive thinking.

Did my writing make even the slightest different to someone else’s life? From the messages I received in my inbox, yes. There have been those who’ve said that my story helped them understand their suffering sister/daughter/mother just a little better, and the women that have decided to check their breasts after reading these postings. For this reason I can say that yes, it has entirely been worth it.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the month I found a lump, my birth month…
This is my 24th post in the triple-negative breast cancer series. It’s been a tough year but, as we mark another Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I’m living each day to the fullest. If I’m very fortunate, there won’t be a need for much more in the way of personal updates here, but I will continue to write on the topic of triple-negative breast cancer.

There was another candle on my birthday cake this October. That’s one awesome candle. Prettiest one I’ve ever seen. I hope to add many more but there are no guarantees. Let’s just say I appreciate growing older. Bring on the birthdays.

It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Triple-Negative Breast Cancer Profiles
Carmelita P: Grieving Son Recounts Mom’s Battle with Triple-Negative Breast Cancer
Nancy Steiler: Searching for “Normal” After Cancer
Eileen Z. Fuentes: Living with a Grateful Vibration
Meagan Farrell: Cancer Survivor Says “Let Go of the Little Stuff”
Melissa Stukenborg: When Worst Fear Becomes Reality, Find Your Inner Strength

Breast Cancer Awareness: Taking it Personally
Man with Breast Cancer says, “Don’t be embarrassed…it’s too important”
Living with Triple-Negative Breast Cancer Series
Brief Video: What is Triple-Negative Breast Cancer?
Book: No More Secs! Living, Laughing & Loving Despite Multiple Sclerosis
Follow on Twitter @AnnPietrangelo

Image: istockphoto.com


A Marina Fournier

I would do as I did for the skin cancers: go to my PCP and say, I've found something suspicious I'd like you to check, and then do whatever is necessary afterwards.

When I was in my late 20's, I had a quadrant on my left nipple where dark greenish fluid was occasionally expressed. I think at that point, I'd already been pregnant once, years before. I had it checked everyway until Tuesday, with no real dx. About ten years later, it happened again--long time after the last pregnancy. Likely an infection of some sort, but never a lump at all, before or since.

Maryanne E.
Maryanne E6 years ago

My mom is a 14 year breast cancer survivor. So if I found a lump in my breast, yes, I am off to the doctor for further testing. We have two excellent cancer care centers in the area, both of which are open to homeopathic treatments.

My heart goes out to all who've found a lump and do not have insurance. Have you tried calling your local hospitals and clinics, stating that this wouldn't be for a routine exam, that there's a problem? Sometimes, there's programs they can suggest or even set up a payment plan or you can qualify for free care in some areas.

Best wishes to all who've had that frightening moment.

Gina Denholm
Gina Denholm6 years ago

In the UK women are offered a free mammogram every 3 years after their 50th birthday. i live in a rural area, but a fully equipped van visits the village to do the business!!! Does it hurt? Hell Yes!!! but its worth the pain for 5 minutes to know that you are clear for another three years. Just keep checking yourself in between visits Hope everyone takes advantage of the opportunities they are given

DORIS L6 years ago

I 'd consult with my doctor. One step at a time.

April Thompson
April Thompson6 years ago

God bless you and all who have survived and are surviving with breast cancer and other cancers!

Atudorquene E.
Atudorquene E6 years ago

Actually, that happened to me three weeks ago. I woke up with a quail egg sized lump in my left breast. It was very sore and hot, and I was pretty sure it was just a cyst, but my mom had had breast cancer so I take these things seriously. So, I called my Primary and got in to see her the next business day. She examined the lump and sent me in for an Ultrasound, I refused a Mammogram, because of the extreme pain - yes, really the thought of them possibly crushing a painful cyst in those jaws of death was too much to contemplate. So, she agreed with me, Ultrasound to see what it was, if not a cyst then I would face the dreaded Mammogram, if a cyst we will wait for it to reduce for me to go in for the Mammogram. Then I had to argue with the Imaging Center, because their standard procedure is to do a Mammogram first then an Ultrasound, I refused that, and said my situation was not standard. I did not want a huge bursting cyst to release possible infected fluid into my breast tissue, and I didn't want that pain. So, they finally gave in with the codicil that the Radiologist might refuse if I refused the Mammogram, I replied that was fine, the parking only costs $4 and I can always walk out. Guess it stuck with them, I went in for the Ultrasound and nary a word was said about the obligate Mammogram. The Ultrasound showed a cyst, and I will go in for the Mammogram when this painful little visitor goes quiet. When my mom had her 'lump' it was before lumpectomies were stand

Lindsey Williams
Lindsey W6 years ago


Denise L.
Denise L6 years ago

I was so sad reading some of the comments here of women who need to see a doctor but can't afford to. I live in Canada and take for granted that whenever I need medical it is there for me and everyone else. The uncertainty you face must be incredibly scary, I wish you all the best

Jane R.
Jane R6 years ago

If I found a lump in my breast, I'd definitely see a Doctor, not just one but two or three. Tests can be wrong and I'd want to be sure if it was really cancer before deciding what type of treatment I'd go for.

Pamela H.
Pamela H6 years ago

I would call chemical 'therapy' radical to the extreme; and radiation 'therapy' medieval. They say to look at your 'options'. In conventional medicine there are no options, it's their way or the highway.