The greatest thing about having boobs is being able to touch them whenever you like. Feeling a bit down? Just grab your boobs. Feeling needy? Grab your boobs. Bored? Grab your boobs.
But grabbing your boobs isn’t quite the same as feeling your boobs to check all is in order. You’ve probably seen all the adverts and viral posts on Twitter and Facebook detailing how to properly check your boobs for anything that might seem a bit off. Really good for adults who are at risk of breast cancer, right? Give it a quick RT or share so your Auntie Val in Scotland is aware of the signs then keep scrolling…
DING DING DING. RED ALERT. SIRENS WAIL. LOCKDOWN COMMENCES.
Wrong. No. EVERYONE should check their boobs, whether they’re 44, 74, or 14 – because you never know when something might appear, just like it did for me.
Yes, my name is Louise and I found a lump in my boob.
I was barely out of my teens when I ran to my mum’s bedroom wide-eyed, toothbrush dangling from my mouth, and both hands clutched on my left tit. I have a habit of flashing my boobs or bum to people (I blame my Nan, she loves showing people – namely my boyfriend – the scars on her hips from her many operations, she isn’t shy) but this time was different.
“Ere’s a fing in ma oob,” I said.
“Excuse me?” Mum replied, taking the toothbrush from my mouth.
“There’s a thing in my boob.”
I grabbed her hand and pressed her fingers on my nipple, moving them around a bit. She frowned. “Definitely something there. I’ll get you an appointment for tomorrow.” And that was that.
My mum’s a secretary to a breast surgeon, which was incredibly handy. She doesn’t fluster. She knows that symptoms can mean anything – unlike Google, which screams ‘DEATH!’ any time you search ‘my toe hurts’ or ‘my bum’s itchy’.
Regardless, I Googled ‘types of boob lumps’, which Mum specifically told me not to do. I knew that breast cancer would come up first. I knew that breast cancer charities, support groups, and frickin’ funeral planners would be thrown in my face, but I kept my eyes firmly on the NHS website.
There were so many things this lump right under my nipple could be. A breast abscess, a breast cyst, benign lumps or, of course, breast cancer. All of these I’d heard of but another diagnosis sounded more fancy than the others: Fibroadenoma.
Fibroadenomas were described on the NHS website as, “smooth, well-rounded solid lumps of tissue that sometimes develop outside the milk ducts. They are particularly common in young women.”
Bingo. That must have been me.
(Sidenote: I do not recommend Googling symptoms – it’s much better going to see your GP!)
The next day, Mum and I saw her surgeon for a proper examination. He was a small, old guy who I’d known for years and the thought of him touching my tits seemed a bit… weird. But I told myself that this is his literal job. He does this all the time. I just wish his hands weren’t so cold.
He confirmed the lump and instantly told me that there was nothing to worry about. HOW DID HE KNOW? JUST FROM FEELING IT? IS HE A WIZARD? But he told me the lump, which was very likely a fibroadenoma (smug Lou here felt so smug indeed), was quite large so may have to be surgically removed.
“How many times do you check your breasts?” he asked.
“Mmmm, when you say check…”
He was bemused as to how I hadn’t noticed this lump before as it was QUITE LARGE, but I quoted the NHS website back to him and said fibroadenomas are sometimes referred to as ‘breast mice’ because they easily move around so it was probably hidden. He gave me a (well deserved) lecture on how to check my boobs anyway.
After an ultrasound and biopsy to solidify diagnosis, I had the operation and, during it, the surgeon found two lumps. A smaller was hiding behind the bigger. Peekaboob.
They both had to be removed, tested for malignancy (cancer) for protocol then destroyed, so I couldn’t keep them in a jar. Boo. I had a six-month then yearly check up and was signed off. Done and dusted. Who knew finding a breast lump could be so normal, so simple?
I’ve got a crackin’ scar now around my left nipple. I don’t tell people I was bitten by a shark, I tell them I had lumps in my boob. That shocks them more because “YOU’RE SO YOUNG???” – and maybe, just maybe, hopefully, it’ll encourage them to check their own boobs more often.
Check out the Coppafeel site for more tips and advice on getting to grips with your boobs.
Image: Katie Edmunds