October is breast cancer awareness month and I will like to tell a story about when I found a lump in my breast.
I’ve never been a sickly child. Never hospitalized or been ill for more than a week (except when I had chicken pox, ewwww), so imagine my horror and disbelief when my breast examination revealed a lump.
You see, I was just 18 years old but two years before then, my grandma passed away from breast cancer. She was the sweetest human and I couldn’t believe someone so close to me could have cancer.
I’m from Nigeria, so not only is the health sector in shambles, most citizens can’t afford healthcare so we all just wish all our diseases away or take herbal concoctions.
She was in constant pain but she absolutely refused to see a doctor. “We can’t afford it. I’ll be fine in a few day, I just need to take my ‘medicine’. My pastor said…” till it got worse. She eventually acquiesced but it was too late. She died the night before her mastectomy.
So I knew all about cancer. At least I thought I did.
So one night, I was absentmindedly performing a breast examination when I felt a bump/lump. I was shocked. I waited a few days then told my mum. With mechanical efficiency, she scheduled an appointment with the family doctor. It was harder explaining to my dad because he doesn’t know how to deal with ermmmm crisis. Lol. He was hysterical and my mum had to calm him down.
I didn’t even know how to act. I guess I was numb at first. My mum and I went to the hospital together and she just held me. We didn’t talk while we were waiting for the doctor. We just held each other. Numb.
The doctor called us in then asked me what was wrong. That was when I broke down because it suddenly seemed more real. I was here. This was happening. To me. I tearily told him everything.
I climbed onto his examination bed, undressed and then he started pressing my breasts (with my mom present of course and not in the least bit predatory or creepy I say).
When he was done, I got dressed, then he looked at me and asked why I thought it was cancer. I explained how my grandma died from breasts cancer and how I heard it was sometimes hereditary. He shook his head that he understood but proceeded to educate us on how breast cancer wasn’t as common among my age group as it was with older women. Told me some lumps or bulges can be found in the breasts right before getting periods or due to infections or injuries.
He said he was almost certain it wasn’t cancerous but instructed us to go for a scan for unequivocal prove.
To cut the long story short, I didn’t have cancer but the episode left me shaken to my core because not long after, a friend underwent a successful surgery to remove a malignant tumor in her breast.
Hence, early detection is literally the thin line between your life and death. Men get breast cancer too so…I hope everyone takes care of themselves and spread aware. Especially in this month.