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I Think I Have Breast Cancer

I’m wildly protective about my health. Growing up, my little sister had a heart transplant, and passed away 2 years ago of a lymphoma related to that transplant. In retrospect her struggles with both physical and mental illness have impacted my life, my outlook and my choices for good. But reflectively, it’s made me nuts about my health. It also made me scared to death to have babies.

My grandmother had colon cancer at 32. So of course, I had to have a colonoscopy before I turned 33. Check – done in November. Everything was great and I really enjoyed the drug that they gave me. 😀

I had blood clots in my legs in December. Which I shouldn’t have. I exercise, I eat (ok), I have healthy veins via ultrasound. Upon further investigation (on my own) I found that I had very high amounts of estrogen in my system. Upon even further investigation I found that I had a lump in my left breast. My lymph nodes in my left arm have been aching for 2 months. All of these things – signs of breast cancer. (and the high estrogen would also explain my blood clots in my legs and the aching in my joints – which are both gone now that I’ve corrected things).

And as I waited for my mammogram and ultrasound last week, in my heart – the sky is falling. I think I have breast cancer.

2011 was suppose to be a great year. My husbands car accident is behind us, I’ve cleaned out every nook and cranny of my house to feel like we have a fresh start, I’ve even totally changed my musical play lists. I’ve taken feng shui to an entirely new level. We need some good mojo at my house.

While I waited . . . my mind was spinning wildly out of control. I’ve mentally travelled down the road of a double mastectomy, losing my ability to have any more children, losing my hair (which is in my opinion my only redeeming quality), and of course I’ve imagined having to leave my children without a mother. And I’ve all ready had the conversation with my husband that he’d probably find a way cooler, way hotter wife than me. And that I would haunt them from heaven.

All without a diagnosis.

And of course, in the irony of my life, we are running a campaign this month on TodaysMama.com to help prevent breast cancer. To spread awareness that you can find out if you carry the gene. To help you outrun this horrible disease.

So yeah. In the irony of my life, in my wildly irrational mind, I’m dead and buried.

Why am I writing this? We talk a lot about the things we have or the things that have all ready happened to us. But maybe we don’t talk about the scary monsters that are running around in our head. The irrational thoughts that we have as mothers, as women, as children in our hearts. We don’t let the cat out of the bag that we are fully irrational about our health. (at least I am). So I’m telling you about my boogey man. And maybe I think that by telling you that I’m outrunning him a little more, or that maybe you’ll outrun yours.

Either way, it’s our job to protect our health and the health of our families. So just ask your doctor about your family history and see if you should get any test done for early detection.

As for me? I had my boobs put in the vice last Wednesday (aka a mammogram). In the words of my very sweet, very handsome and well dressed radiologist: “Oh sweetie . . . you know how mattresses are lumpy? Well that’s just like your left boob. We’ll see you when you’re 40.”

That’s right. Lumpy mattress boobs.

Now I can return to obsessing about how my iPhone is radiating my body and planting the seeds of . . . a brain tumor.

Because we care about your lady parts almost as much as we care about our own, we’re dangling an iMac out in front of you to remind you to stay healthy and up to date on your screenings. ENTER HERE

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Comments (41)

  1. aroosha 08/02/2013 at 3:25 am

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  2. Whitney 04/16/2013 at 5:25 pm

    I just found a very strangely shaped, hard “spot” (and i cant call it a lump…i guess it is but it isnt round. It is a very strange shape) about two weeks ago. It was the first time i ever did a self exam. I am 25. In the back of my head i am terrified. But so much so that i am avoiding a trip to the drs office. Not to mention i did try to make an apppointment but they told me because i wasnt thirty i would have to be referred by a general practitioner. Well…i dont have one. The idea of having to go find a gp i like just to be refer to get a mammogram is just….daunting. i cant believe they wont let youget a mammogram when you have legitimately found something troubling just because you arent 30. What freaks me out most is that it has steadily increased in size over the last two weeks. You used to have to feel around for it…now you can see it through my skin. But nope. No mammogram for me. I think the idea that i have to get a referral has discouraged me. Deep down im already crying.

  3. Jessica 03/26/2013 at 10:23 pm

    Dont scare me like that. Thank you for sharing. I have had some strange ailments going on, and it is nice to hear so done elses irrational thoughts. Here s to happy, healthy lumpy mattress boob!

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  6. Britt 06/24/2011 at 12:58 pm

    Oh this had me laughing! I have the same monster. My husband rolls his eyes every time. WebMD is pretty much my worst enemy. I have to stay off that web site. Too much info for my creative mind when it comes to my ailments. Thanks for letting me know I am not the only one!

  7. LittleBGCG 03/05/2011 at 6:16 pm

    So glad you don’t have Breast Cancer but I lol’d at the lumpy mattress comment!

  8. Gena Morris 03/04/2011 at 9:32 am

    Rachel I just found this. I am so grateful you indeed found out! I know it’s scary at times. I have a similar boogey man that is cervical cancer. Now I am glad you only have lumpy breasts but this story will help out so many who are afraid to get tested until it is too late!

  9. Kelly Loubet 02/25/2011 at 6:27 pm

    Rachel… Thank you for sharing this. I had a similar scare a few years ago at 29. There was/is a lump and my mammogram and ultra sound revealed the same thing. A lumpy mattress boob! I was told that as we get older and have kids… our breast tissue changes. Who knew? Not me or my lumpy boob. Thanks again for sharing.

  10. Jenny 02/21/2011 at 8:53 pm

    Thanks Rachael – – That helps a lot! Yes, if you would email me the following info/answers I’d be really grateful!

    * Is your “integrative” doctor your primary care physician or something different?

    * Is the woman doing craniosacral different from your PCP and can you give me her name and contact info? I don’t even know what craniosacral is so I’ll be looking that up in the mean time.

    * About the blood clots in your legs, how did you know you had those – is it obvious because of pain or is it tingling, numbness? I’ve also wondered about those.

    * Was your lymph node swelling just on one side or both? Mine is just one side which seems more worrisome, but then like you, I’m a worrier.

    * I’ve heard so many cautions about taking hormones but it sounds like you’re liking it.
    Is that correct? Any negative side effects?

    * And anything else you think of. I’m really frustrated.

    * Oh, and what’s the cleansing plan? 😉

    Thanks so much – I appreciate you taking the time.
    Jenny

    • Rachael Herrscher 02/24/2011 at 9:52 pm

      Of course! What’s your email addy? THANKS!

  11. Jenny 02/21/2011 at 4:53 pm

    Rachael,

    Thanks for sharing this story that many of us can relate to. In that same spirit of sharing, do you mind saying more about your symptoms and treatment because I have had something similar lately and my mammogram was normal ( I had no lump, just soreness and swelling). My doctor can’t find anything wrong with me and I can’t find anything on the internet that helps me figure out what is giving me pain and swelling in my left lymph nodes/underarm/breast/pectoral muscle area.

    The best answer I’ve found is hormones out of whack. So I’m wondering, how did you test your estrogen levels and did you find out that was the reason for your swollen lymph nodes? Also, how did you discover the blood clots in your legs?

    Thank you!
    (And if you’d rather respond privately to my email than post your response that is fine with me. I’d just be grateful for a lead on something that might help me figure out what is causing this major annoyance. 🙂

    • Rachael 02/21/2011 at 6:00 pm

      of course! Hormones are definitely a big issue. My estrogen was super high and progesterone really low. I also had really high cortisol and adrenaline levels. You really need to get a good blood workup done. “Integrative” doctors are great.

      I have been working with an amazing woman who does craniosacral. It’s like there was just a big build up in my lymph nodes of stuff that needed to drain out. Doing that helped a ton and resolved the aching.

      I’m also taking herbs alongside some bioidentical compounded hormones to balance things out. Does that help? 😀 I’m happy to email more as well!

      Next on my list? A big cleanse!

    • Rachael 02/21/2011 at 6:00 pm

      In the process I also found that I had some indicators in my blood for gluten sensitivity so I’m gluten free at the moment

  12. Ray Shulund 02/21/2011 at 3:18 pm

    Don’ t be reactive, We all need to be pro active. 80% positive affect with the big “c” word and 100% positive affect with the autism spectrum. http://www.ncdsupport.com. Also see what others are saying at http://www.testimonyinfo.com Have a blessed day.

  13. Christina Z 02/19/2011 at 11:28 pm

    So happy that it turned out to lumpy mattress boobs. Thank you for sharing your story with us. I agree if more women talk about what we are so scared of will let us all know we some of the same fears and that we can support one another and spread awareness. Thank you

  14. Janet 02/17/2011 at 11:16 am

    I am so thankful that you are okay! Question, as I too have had a few small surgeries recently to correct a blood clot and leaky veins in my legs, how did you “correct things” regarding your blood clots? How did you find out that you have high amounts of estrogen. My vein doctors, that’s right twodoctors, never mentioned that estrogen might be the cause, but I have read this. I appreciate your help with this, of course we don’t want blood clots, or cancer!!! I’ll keep you and your family in my prayers!

  15. Emily 02/16/2011 at 4:20 pm

    Thank heavens lumpy mattress boobs aren’t as bad as an actual lumpy mattress! 😉 So glad the diagnosis was a good one. Love you!

  16. Jessica 02/16/2011 at 2:07 pm

    Rach, I am so glad I didn’t have to hear of a third friend in the last month having cancer. Phew! Thank you for sharing.

  17. Ang 02/15/2011 at 8:13 pm

    Glad I’m not the only hypochondriac in the family, Rach. Maybe it explains why I’ve already had 3 colonoscopies and I’m only 26? Not even close to the 32 mark yet, ha ha.

    • Rachael 02/21/2011 at 6:02 pm

      Maybe our hypochondria is genetic! 😀 I’m not responsible for it!

  18. Erica Fehrman 02/15/2011 at 6:29 pm

    Besides the part where your lump turned out to just be a lump, I think the best part is that you went to the doctor. So often I talk to friends who say, “I have a lump but I’ll just wait until my annual in 8 months” or “I have this incredible chest pain but I’ll go to the doctor in the fall.” Health can be scary, but getting a check and a definitive answer early is the best thing you can do.

    I think you should treat your lumpies to new, pretty bras 🙂

  19. Raejean 02/15/2011 at 3:47 pm

    Thanks for sharing your internal drama. It’s nice to hear another woman share fears. Sometimes we are so busy putting on a happy face that we don’t share what makes us toss and turn at night. I wonder if we shared more, we’d find comfort in all that we have in common.

    Here’s to a great 2011!

  20. Carina Wytiaz 02/15/2011 at 3:06 pm

    (p.s. let’s talk about the time my husband thought he was having a heart attack and it ended up being heartburn. From the pepperoni pizza. Yeah.)

  21. Carina Wytiaz 02/15/2011 at 3:05 pm

    You can’t watch someone close to you suffer with cancer or mental illness and not get paranoid. I’ve been close to scheduling a hysterectomy so I don’t have to face ovarian cancer. I constantly watch my kids for signs they’ve inherited tell-tale signs of mental illness. It just changes you.

    I’m glad your lumpy boob is OK.

  22. Erin Oltmanns 02/15/2011 at 1:57 pm

    I’m going to switch your ringtone on my phone to “My Humps”.

    I’m glad you’re okay and I agree, that if we talk about it, we can share stories like yours and mine…of lumpy boobs that ultimately turn out to be nothing. Then maybe the next woman that feels something won’t automatically panic like we did. 🙂

  23. Heather - Farmgirl Gourmet 02/15/2011 at 10:09 am

    Wow! Honest! I have the same fears! My Grandmother, Mother and Sister have all had BC. I had my girls removed 5 years ago, but still feel every little twinge is the monster coming for me! Thank you for your honest perspective. I feel like I’m not alone! 🙂

    Viva la Lumpy Mattress Boobs!

  24. Pam 02/15/2011 at 10:07 am

    I knew you were cancer-free from when I saw you last wee, but you still had me spooked. Funny how sometimes the scary stuff in our head is harder to deal with than the real thing. You’re a champion in so many ways, even in your boobs are misshapen…any woman who has had kids and haven’t had hers *ahem* “enhanced” is dealing with the same thing.

  25. Shannon 02/15/2011 at 9:59 am

    This is the BEST post! I’m so glad you are okay!

  26. Sky 02/15/2011 at 9:45 am

    Cheers for the lumpy mattress boobs! Seriously, I’m glad you are okay.

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  28. Lindsay 02/15/2011 at 9:27 am

    I’m so deathly terrified of cancer and nobody in my immediate family has ever been diagnosed. Why do we let our fears take over our thoughts instead of enjoying everything we have right here and now? It’s a terrible thing we do to ourselves.

    Glad you’re okay and I hope this year is better for you than last 🙂

  29. Erin Collard 02/15/2011 at 9:24 am

    You’re KILLING me! We had a deal that 2011 would be drama-free, remember? Love you, and am SO glad you’re a lumpy mattress. NOW…a nice, boring year, right?

  30. Laura Ann Williams 02/15/2011 at 9:22 am

    Glad you are ok. I have had a bit of a scare recently too as I thought I was dying when I went into the ER at four in the morning last Sunday by myself. I was indeed not dying, but my gall bladder is now an issue. Luckily it is not too bad of a problem to have except that I now have to watch my fat intake and that is not fun in anyway.

    Hope Mark is doing better and this year turns out to be wonderful for you and your family.

  31. Claudia 02/15/2011 at 9:21 am

    I’m 30 yrs old & I feel like I should go get checked but I’m scared too..my grandfather passed away from cancer in May & almost all his brothers & sisters have passed away from cancer so needless to say I’m terrified. To go get tested!!

  32. Mandi Hudson 02/15/2011 at 9:20 am

    Everything that you described having gone through emotionally, I did too (amazing where are brains run off to when we are worried or afraid). I was diagnosed with breast cancer December 30 and I am only 31 years old. You never know with things like this, so it is always best to worry the worry and get your boobs put in the vice!

  33. Katja of Skimbaco 02/15/2011 at 9:16 am

    I’m so happy to hear you just have lumpy mattress boobs! I hear you on the monsters in our heads though. I had 13 blood clots in my lungs 2,5 yrs ago and it wad a long recovery, and especially for my head.

  34. Mina Frannea 02/15/2011 at 9:14 am

    I’m sorry for the scare you had. So glad that you had a lumpy mattress boob instead. ((hugs))

  35. Real Life Sarah 02/15/2011 at 9:11 am

    Phew! I have lumpy mattresses too, and it totally freaks me out! So important to stay on top of these things!

  36. Cecily R 02/15/2011 at 9:11 am

    Seriously, the best post I’ve EVER read on the subject. So real and honest and familiar. And I’m SO glad you just had a lumpy mattress boob.