Today is all about discussing how to navigate things we don’t want but may be faced with when being in control and an advocate for our health. Going to the doctor is never easy, however, we can personally relate to how gut-wrenching it can be to go when we think we have found something abnormal within our bodies. Rest assured, two things are certain and positive: 1) often these abnormal things are benign (read: safe to stay in our bodies/not cancerous) and 2) if you, a primary care provider, or scan has found something potentially malignant (read: concerns/query cancerous) there is quite literally no time like the present to get a handle on what is going on. Ignoring changes in our bodies for months perhaps helps us ignore these changes, but is no bueno from a health perspective.
So you found a lump...
Step 1: Take note of the lump. Does it feel different than the rest of your breast? What part of your menstrual cycle are you in? Does this lump freely move around or is it fixed to one spot? Is the lump round with smooth edges or jagged? Do you have any other breast changes such as skin rashes, dimpling, or thickening? Do your nipples appear the same as the baseline? Nipple discharge? Is there pain associated?
Step 2: Take a deep breath, its important for us to tell you that the majority of lumps that women find are benign (see: non-cancerous). This doesn’t eliminate the need for you to follow up with your primary care provider but should be a smidgen of comfort.
Step 3: Book an appointment. Your primary care provider or gynaecologist is our preferred peeps of choice as CONTINUITY (having a pro who is familiar with your medical history and can provide adequate follow up) is a factor in positive health outcomes. No doc? Following up with local urgent care/hospital is acceptable and you can be recommended to a future pro that will provide this continuity.
Step 4: Phone a friend. No, not to come and assess your breast lump. If you feel that you have one, or other breast changes, it doesn’t matter if your peanut gallery does not notice these changes, you are the best expert in YOUR body. But, DO phone a friend and share your anxiety or fear surrounding this. Even bring the friend to your appointment.
HOT TIP! manage your pre-appointment/pre-testing anxiety by being honest that you are scared, leaning on friends, writing in a journal, practicing yoga, try taking 5 deep breaths (4 seconds in/4 seconds out), talk therapy. Ultimately, we know that it is silly to expect you to not be nervous or scared, but it’s crucial to continue to take care of your emotional health while you navigate your physical. Both are connected and when you get adequate sleep and manage stress levels, you're able to deal with the rest more effectively.