It was June 26th 2006. Now if you know me, you know that I am terrible with dates. Except this was my Birthday and I was getting dressed to go and celebrate with some friends.
I got out the shower, lotioned up, put on my deodorant and went to put on my bra…Hmm, that’s interesting. I noticed that my left breast hurt. No worries, I thought. I had just given birth a year earlier, had nursed and was over a “certain age”. There was no telling what my body was going through. At any rate, its celebration time. I continue getting dressed and try to think nothing of it.
I reached my first destination, a friends house. She greets me with a hug, pours a drink and the festivities begin. Only my breast seems to be crashing the party. When she went to hug me it felt tender, and as the night progressed it continually got more and more sore. By the end of the night, which I cut short. I was driving home with my bra open and praying that the seat belt did not happen to brush against it.
Home at last! I felt my breast. It felt heavy and warm to the touch. Almost as if I needed to nurse but the pain was remarkably different and there was a small lump. OK! I tend to under-react to things with my health so I’m cool. I get some Epsom salt put it in a towel add some warm water place it on my breast and nighty night I go. It’ll be better in the morning, right?
This was the beginning of a three month journey that really made me stop and take a look at the products I was using. I went to the Dr who performed the most painful mammogram I have ever had in my life. They stated that there was some sort of mass there that didn’t look cancerous, was about the size of a grape, and was concerning. Then came biopsy number 1, not cancerous but lets leave a marker there so that we can find it easily, in the event we need to come visit again. Cool. not cancer, marker, easy to find.
I am now at Urgent Care in the middle of the night in excruciating pain with a hole in my breast that sprung out of nowhere and is gushing blood like I had been stabbed. The very kind, very handsome Dr. (who I later bumped into at the movies, talk about embarrassing) referred me to a Dr. at Duke. Who was as he put it the “best in her field”.
We talked about my health history, diet and lifestyle choices. She was very kind, thorough, attentive and puzzled. For her she wanted to know what was causing this craziness in my breast, where was it coming from and why my body was responding the way that it was?
Fast forward to September. I have been out of work on health leave for the better parts of two months. The mass has grown to the size of an egg. My only option is surgery, a partial mastectomy. She promised that she could avoid my glands and also that my breast would restore itself to its normal shape after surgery. However the amount of painkillers that I had to take just to be able to function, the length of time that I had been on antibiotics plus the fact that she was afraid that even though it seemed to be pretty solid that if it ruptured and got into my bloodstream could kill me. Pretty much made the surgery mandatory. I think I forgot to mention I can be pretty stubborn and thought I would just heal.
Surgery went well. My Dr. really was phenomenal and has been very instrumental in breast cancer research and treatments. Minus a few embarrassing stories coming out from the anesthesia all was right with the world. It still took me a couple of months before I could return to work, so maybe Novemberish. Lots of follow up Dr’s visits and a mother who made the best at home Nurse in the world. I worked with a crew of people at the time who took really good care of me as well. I mean really good care. Surgery was a success and while I have to go yearly for mammograms, nothing has ever come back.
Now I know that I mentioned the first conversation that I had with the Dr. However I didn’t mention anything she said. Well here you have it. I had switched from using regular deodorant to clinical strength. I hadn’t even been using it that long. However after she was abe to test “The Egg” she stated that it was nothing but nasty thick infection (my paraphrase). She stated that whatever we put under our arms has a direct shot to our mammary glands. For me she believed that perhaps that deodorant caused a backup or blockage and the goop that my body should have been secreting ended up pooling in my breast/glands.
So there you have it. There are a lot of laughs and tears between the months of June and September of that year, I can’t say I made the best patient. I went from watching movies with the dude from Jeepers Creepers to crying every time I had to lift my arm to brush my teeth. However my daughter asked about clinical strength deodorant today and as we talked she mentioned that I never told her the story. So I’m writing this for her and her sisters. I’m also writing this for you. So take heed! My armpits no longer smell powder fresh, or like tropical gardens. My deodorant is all natural, made be me so I know exactly what is in it. It goes on as a paste. I might have to reapply it more than once and its is not an antiperspirant so I might even sweat. Also detoxing my armpits has become a new thing and it is just as sexy as it sounds :). But my breast are healthy and I hope by sharing my story I can help you keep yours healthier as well.
Peace, Love and Healthy Breast.