First of all, I had no idea what type of picture I should include with a post titled “your boobs matter” and I also don’t really know how to dive in to this post so I’ll just hop to it!
If you follow me on Snapchat (@absolutelykylie) you may have heard my rant about the major bit of medical complications I’ve faced over the last few weeks. I had my fair share of snaps asking if I was pregnant and I am absofreakinglutely not, but boy have the last few weeks been rough!
Let me start all of this by saying I am fine, and cancer free.
Now into how we found that out-About 3 weeks ago, I had my first yearly OBGYN appointment since Sawyer was born, and my doctor found a lump in my breast. A pretty big one, actually, but I’m still breastfeeding Sawyer so honestly, neither one of us were really concerned. Things like that happen when you’re breastfeeding and it’s hardly a reason to worry. Out of an abundance of caution, my doctor sent me to our local Breast Center, a clinic specializing in all things tatas and superb in the craft of breast radiology.
Jake came with me to my appointment because I was a nervous nelly once it came down to it, but we both just knew it was going to be breastfeeding related, we’d be in and out and back at work within the hour. Except that didn’t happen.
They started with a breast ultrasound, which showed a large 7 cm mass that was not fluid filled (ie wasn’t a milk cyst like we had suspected) and seemed to have blood running through it. They wanted a clearer picture so they sent me to the mammogram room to get my ladies pancaked for some further imaging.
Once my mammogram was complete, the doctor’s exact words were “this doesn’t look so great.” Thanks, Doc! Just what I wanted to hear. J I had tears streaming down my face at this point scared out of my wits. I’m 24 years old, with a strong family history of breast cancer, and a newborn baby who I am still breastfeeding. The words “breast cancer” are something I have heard plenty of times in reference to other people, but when it’s you, and you’re faced with something like that, it’s an entirely different meaning. Jake couldn’t even look at me without tears streaming down his face. It was rough.
The doctor decided to admit me for a biopsy and they cut me open and took a large piece of the tumor out for biopsy. I was actually told I could continue breastfeeding as soon as I felt fine, and they stitched me up, we went home and tried to wait out the next 24 hours on results. I was pretty darn sore and too emotionally drained to really focus on work, so they next day was spent at home with Jake trying to keep our minds busy waiting for “the call.” Around 4 PM my phone began ringing and I was too terrified to even answer! Thankfully, when I did, her first words were “it’s benign!” And we breathed this huge giant sigh of “thank you Jesus.” We thought all was good at that point, so I made a watermelon cocktail and squeezed the crap out of my baby and Jake gave me one uncomfortably long smooch ;)
About 5 days later, I was at work and started feeling just plain icky. I was tired, hot, cold, tired, and my incision site felt AWFUL. It was bright red, hard as a rock, and super hot to the touch. It didn’t seem right so I called the breast center and they told me I needed to come in right away. By the time I got there, I nearly passed out on the table. I had developed an awful infection, that caused the inflamed tissue to swell to the size of an apple, and I was experiencing flu-like systems as well as a fever of 104 while my body did what it could to combat the damage.
You see, breastmilk is a funny thing in that it can cure most anything, but boy is it a breeding ground for infection if it get inside an open wound. I was given a line of antibiotics in the office, and I spent the next 48 hours sleeping and pumping (excruciatingly painful!) until the fog lifted. I had mastitis on day 12 of Sawyer’s life, and this was similar to that, but even worse.
Side note, when I went in for my infection, the doctor gave me this big giant hug and said “I’m so grateful you’re okay” I was like…ugh, thanks? But I actually feel like shit…soo… and that’s when she said in 20 years of practice she would have put money on the mass in my breast being cancerous. It has it’s own blood supply and all of the little “fingers” ingrained in the tissue as a cancerous tumor would, and there was a gloom over the office when I left that day, everyone thinking I had a not happy outcome on it’s way. I’m real glad she told us this after the fact, because this information would have sent me into a tailspin before we knew it was benign!
You’d think the drama was over, right? Wrong. As I was season 4 deep in Orange is the New Black, I felt my arm was wet, and I pulled up my shirt to (TMI gross warning. Stop here if you’re eating lunch) see that so much fluid had built up from the infection that my incision literally ripped open, and every disgusting bodily fluid you can imagine was pouring out. I wanted to vomit! Back to the doctor I went (for the 3rd time now. I’m on a first name basis in that place!) They placed a drain to rid some of the fluid, and gave me another ultrasound which showed the infection was in fact healing well, so that was our first bit of good news in awhile!
I started feeling much better, until 4 AM Saturday morning when I got up to nurse Sawyer, and my shirt was soaked. I had developed a milk fistula, which is where your milk starts leaking out of your incision. I was told by my doctor that the only way to fix this was via surgery, but at this point, we’re doing everything we can to heal it naturally before getting to that point.
Are you still there? Geeze…talk about drama! If you’re still with me, I’m happy to report, 4 days of pressure bandages and very limited nursing on that side seems to have started to heal the fistula! I’m hoping it is almost completely there before my next follow up appointment. I didn’t know through all of this if I’d be able to continue breastfeeding Sawyer, but we’re going strong, I’m feeling SO much better, and a little bit like a badass to have conquered all of this and not given up.
All of this is to say, be aware of what is happening in your breasts. Don’t wait for your yearly exam and if you find a lump, small as it might be, talk to your doctor. There is a much greater chance that lump is nothing to worry about, than the latter. Early detection is KEY! 93% of stage 1 and 2 breast cancer can be healed if treated early. Although this was all very dramatic for us, I’m grateful for a vigilant doctor who insisted we get it checked out, because you never know. I think everyone assumes “it will never be me” and I am abundantly thankful it wasn’t me this time, but it has heightened my awareness of what is happening in my body, and I’ve decided because of my strong family history to get a mammogram every year (despite my young age) to be safe.
Love yourself, love your boobs, and send a shoutout to the man upstairs, because every healthy day is a good day, amiright?
Lots of love to you all!