(I’m not a doctor, so please don’t take this article as a substitute for medical advice. This is my personal story. Always consult with your physician and/or specialist. Cheers, Cait.)
Well, I was planning on keeping this to myself but Carrie Fisher died yesterday and what I admired most about her was her shamelessness at putting everything out there. So, for you, Carrie, you awesome writer, you, Imma do the same.
Fifteen years ago, at 32, I’d just found out that I couldn’t have children, but I could have a ginormous lump in my left breast. I went from thinking my boobs would be feeding a small person, to nope, and to maybe I might not have one of my boobs after all. I felt frightened into a new dimension. So many thoughts crashed into my mind at once, and I automatically entertained the worst ones. During that time, while scared shitless in a surgeon’s waiting room, I opened Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I’d never read it before and laughed my head off, to the surprise of the staff and other patients, I’m sure. My laugh travels like a comet crashing into a planet. It’ll make you jolt.
In late summer of that year, I had a benign fibroadenoma removed. That’s a cyst like a rubber ball. It had to be taken out because sometimes they can grow too big and take over the breast. I was relieved but still shaken. This is a shaky-up-thing no matter what the results.
Yesterday while lying in bed and doing a self-exam, I felt something on my right breast. Now, I’m deep into perimenopause but can still get periods. I know that depending on the day of your cycle, your breasts can feel differently, including any cysts. So, was this the result of the hormonal collision between PMS and peri? I didn’t wait to find out. I saw a doctor this morning and got a requisition for an urgent mammogram and ulstrasound. I thought, Great. Here we go again.
I’ve been having regular mammograms since I was 32 because of my family history, fibrocystic breast condition, and dense breast tissue. Encouraged by doctors, I did regular self-exams so I’d learn what my normal feels like. By the way, I don’t know who the lunkheads were who said not to do these exams. Knowing your body is crazy important. While I have been good with my mammograms, a ton of health issues over the past two years has made me forget to check myself out. Fortunately, I’ve enough of an understanding of my boobs to know what irregular feels like.
On my coffee table rests my comedy sci-fi, Life in the ‘Cosm, who several people have compared to Adam’s style. It’s the same genre anyway, but with more dessert. Anyway, the sight of my book made me cry. Would it be my last? Yes, I went to that place. It’s good to confess your worst fears, I think. Better than bottling them up.
Welp, in honour of the sequel to my first lump, Imma keep writing the sequel to my first book. My Chromebook and I just talked it over and we think it’s a good idea. I have no clue what my future will be right now, just like the characters in my books. (I never know what the heck will happen to those peeps.)
But I have made one decision. If the diagnosis is such that my breast is going to be removed, I want reconstructive surgery.
And instead of a tattoo of a nipple, I want a small cupcake.
At least I’ve my priorities sorted.
Cait Gordon is an Irish-Canadian warrior princess and author of Life in the ‘Cosm, a space opera about aliens with issues (Renaissance Press). She’s also the editor of the Spoonie Authors Network blog.