Now this is probably the most open post I will ever blog about. But it’s October, the month that holds dear to me and one that is important to all women. Breast Cancer awareness month. Now I know many have been joking about it on Twitter, guys having breasts as their avis with pink twibbons on the side and what not, but it’s really a serious matter. Breast and cervical cancer kills 625,000 women every year. That’s a really huge number, but we can do something to prevent it. I’m talking to you ladies out there and maybe by sharing my story as much I love keeping it to myself; I hope it will even move one person to go get their breasts checked
Let me take you back to October 2006: There I was, young in my early twenties so full of life all nonchalant without a care in the world. I was enjoying my life to the full. One day a good friend of mine comes home and tells me her sister cancelled on her and she wanted to go for the free screening test that Mater Hospital were conducting that year and wanted me to accompany her. I thought to myself, well what the heck it’s better than sitting home doing my usual couch potato Saturday ritual of movie watching on the sofa. I dressed up in all pink just to compliment the whole breast cancer awareness month. We reached Mater Hospital at around 11am and the place was already full. Now I’m a very impatient person and there was no way I would wait in line. I remember telling my friend that I didn’t have big boobs like her, there was no point in even having mine checked. Yet she insisted since we were already there, we should just stay and wait. I had my MP3 player on; lips pouted all sulky not talking to my friend. After a long wait, we went to get our information put on record by one of the nurses. I remember answering her with attitude when she asked me when I had my first period, if I was on any contraception pills, cases of cancer in my family and I answered her rudely telling her I didn’t want to be there in the first place, I was just bringing my friend to get her boobs checked. I think she was used to girls like me, she looked at my chest and asked: “Judging by your chest I presume you are a girl?” I kept my mouth shut afterwards and stopped showing her attitude. We were given numbers, went back and sat down waiting to be called by the nurses to get checked. It was 12:00pm by then, I was really hungry, and I really get cranky when hungry and since our number wasn’t going to be called out anytime soon, I decided to leave the hospital and go get something to eat. I came back when some of the breast cancer survivors were sharing their stories and that’s when it dawned on me, breast cancer is real. These were ordinary women just like me, some very young saying how cancer doesn’t discriminate regardless of age or color. Finally at around 3:00pm our numbers were called out, instead of us getting checked at the tent that was outside, the group I was in was told to go inside the hospital. My friend went in first; she was out in less than 5 minutes. I knew it would be a breeze for me too. In I went crossing my fingers that it was a woman who was going to do my examination and not some guy (I was still young and naïve then) thank God it was a very friendly female nurse. She told me to unbutton my blouse as she read my history then started feeling on my breasts. I noticed her face changed when she felt my left breast. She felt it again, and then called another nurse. The other nurse felt it too and called a male doctor. So here I was, scared of what was going on, half-naked with three people feeling on my boobs. They tried to act all calm when they told me they felt some abnormal lumps on my left breast it might be nothing but just to be safe they scheduled me for a biopsy two weeks from then. I dressed up calmly like nothing was wrong; my friend was outside with a very anxious face wondering what was going on inside there. I told her I was told to come back two weeks from then in a very casual manner. I went home, showed my mum and sister the results and tried to act so nonchalant about it. I was scared inside and angry at God, Life and everyone. I had just lost my dad January of that year, and now this. We had barely recovered from the financial burden of losing a bread winner and all I could think about was how I didn’t want to burden my mum again with this. My aunt had come visiting that day, and she is a nurse. So she had me strip down again (if I had a penny for all the people who felt on my boobs that day) she felt it and she also confirmed she felt something. That’s when I started panicking. All I kept saying was I didn’t want to walk around with one boob. I’d rather die than live without my breasts. I really was young and naïve then:-)
Last week of October 2006: Finally the day arrived. I was so nervous, I didn’t want to show it on my face but I was really scared. My friend wanted to take me to hospital, my mum offered too, everyone kept calling me offering to take me but I just wanted to go there alone. I didn’t want to break down in front of anyone so I went in there alone, I found a young girl my age who also was told to come back for more further tests. We really bonded with her and the wait become bearable. She went in first, got her tests done again and came out with a smile on her face. I felt so relieved for her and somewhat for me too. By now I had gotten used to the male doctors and them touching my breasts and squeezing them over and over again, but this time the squeezing was really painful. The doctor then took a needle that was almost as big as my arm; I thought I would faint at that moment from the size of that thing. He then inserted the needle on my left breast and out came fat mixed with blood. That’s when I asked the doctor what the hell he was doing to my breast, and told me it was a biopsy to remove a sample of the suspicious breast cells to determine whether the cells were cancerous. Afterwards a sample of it was taken back to the lab, I was then taught on how to do my own BSE while taking a shower to always check out for lumps. My left breast was paining then, I couldn’t even move my left arm afterwards. Waiting for the results from the lab was the longest wait ever for me. I sat there waiting to be called back while praying crossing my fingers and regretting why I came alone. Right then all I wanted was my mum to hold my hand and tell me all was well. Finally the results came back, and the doctor with a smile on his face told me that the lump on my breasts were benign and not cancerous but just too be safe its best for them to be removed. I was more than elated when I heard the news. Sure I was in pain but it was a smooth walk in walk out procedure. The next few days my left breast was still swollen, I developed a fever and massaging it every day to reduce the swelling was the most painful thing but I was glad I had me a happy ending
Back to October 2011: It is Breast Cancer awareness month again. Every year I always go for my checkups faithfully just to make sure I’m lump free. I just thought I would share my story out there to women who think that BSE won’t save your life. Breast Cancer can affect anyone, and it can be prevented if caught on time. Ladies, we all know men love our twins whether real or silicon based, so why not appreciate our breasts as much as they do and feel your breasts this month and go have them checked professionally too. I love my twins; I don’t know what I would do without them. I managed to save my twins, it’s time we all tried saving them twins’ ladies and gents too! Remember guys get them checked as well breast cancer affects you too. I remember when one couldn’t even say breast, let alone breast cancer. Women did not say that word out loud then, but that has changed quite a bit over the years. In the words of Debbie Wasserman Schultz: Every woman needs to know the facts, and the fact is when it comes to breast cancer, every woman is at risk. I’ve gone pink and done my part, it’s time to do yours.
Peace and Blessings, Vionna