What if It’s Cancer?

I remember the day like it was yesterday.

I was young. I had no job. No health insurance. And a stinging sensation that went through my nipple. It was painful to the touch. Even taking a shower was unbearable. I was afraid of the unknown. What if it’s cancer?

At the time I lived with my mother. She would do anything for me. I knew she would do anything to stop the pain. “But, what if it was cancer?” I thought. I didn’t want her to worry. So I kept it a secret.

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This painful secret came to an end when the pain that used to bother me by touch woke me up. Tears covered my cheek as I slowly put my left breast into my bra. I knew it was time to see a doctor.

As I got on the bus everyone was a blur, except this petite lady with silver hair who seemed to watch my every move. I sat next to her. She immediately tapped me on my shoulder.

“Are you okay?” she said.

“Yes,” I said.

“Do you have a mother?” She said.

“Yes.” I said. With my eyebrows bent, wriggling my forehead. Confused. I wanted to know what having a mother have to do with anything. She responded as if she read my mind.

“Whatever it is, she would want to know. Tell her.” She said.

I finally looked into the woman’s eyes.

“What’s wrong?” She said.

“I think I may have breast cancer?” I said.

She gave me a look. Before she can say another word I got off the bus. When I got home I was still in no rush to tell my mother what I revealed to the lovely stranger. However, I knew it was time she knew.

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My mother walked into the room. With tears in my eyes I said, “I think, I might have breast cancer.” Now that I think about it, that was extreme.

My mother’s look was intense. She asked me how did I come to that conclusion. I explained. She shook her head.”That does not mean you have cancer,” she said.

She walked around getting dressed. Then she asked more questions. Upset that I did not tell her sooner, her voice got louder. Her questions began to feel like an interrogation. Then she walked back into the room grabbed my head towards her chest. Told me that I would be okay. Kissed my forehead and said, “lets go.”

We went to a breast specialist. That’s when I first learned about cyst. It can develop from too much caffeine. The doctor recommended that I stay away from things like tea, chocolate and soda. He extracted the creamy cyst from my breast into a tube. It looked like mucus. He advised me to keep an eye on my breast, because I have cyst and dense breast tissue. Women with dense tissue have to be extra observant of their breast, because it’s harder to detect cancer.

Now I get regular mammograms. The question lingerers with every test result. What if it’s cancer? I am able to sigh with some relief, when I am told my cyst are benign.

I share my story with you today, for obvious reasons. October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. The fight against breast cancer is one we all know too well. Whether you know someone who’s diagnosed, you’ve been diagnosed, or you’re waiting for test results, this disease affects us all. My hope is that my story will inform you, that the fight against breast cancer does not just start after a diagnose. It starts by educating yourself and being active in preventive care.

For more information about Breast Cancer go to www.cancer.org.

  • Omg! Thanks for writing this post. We had a similar scare in my family when the same exact thing happened to my sister. She also had no insurance. Gratefully, it was also just a cyst.

    • Hey Anekia, thanks for reading. When I wrote this I thought someone else may be experiencing the same thing maybe my story can help.

  • Camile Lindsay Kumi

    Thanks for sharing. I definitely needed to be reminded to do self breast exams. I am glad you are okay and I hope you continue to have benign test results.

    • Thank you Camile. I am glad that I can remind you. Please do go get tested. Thanks for reading and for your comments.

  • NiChallenged

    Being young and broke can really take a toll on your proactiveness on your health. *sigh* I know this too well. Thanks for reminding me about the two important girls in my life. 🙂

    • Hi Nichallenged, yes the struggle is real. I am glad to be the reminder the girls need attention too.

  • Jeneba Jalloh Ghatt

    Excellent Read. Brilliantly written. Thanks for sharing something so personal. You could save a life. #BLMGirl

    • Thank you so much for reading and sharing my story Jeneba. I appreciate your support.

  • Thank you so much for sharing your story. I am so glad that it was just a cyst and that you are doing well. It’s so important that we educate ourselves and take the preventative measures that we can. I do self breast checks, but probably not regularly enough,and your story has reminded me of how important that is.

    Best Wishes,
    Allison Jones | http://www.LiveLifeWellBlog.com

    • Thank you for reading. I am happy that my story serves as a reminder to so many. I am glad that I shared it.

    • Awe thank you Allison for your well wishes and visiting my blog today. I’m glad that my story served as a reminder. And I’m so glad that I shared it.

  • Nancy

    Hi Iris.. As always your articles are beautifully written and keeps the readers intrigue. This one especially as my mother had breast cancer. Thank you for the article and as always .. Keep writing! 😊👍

    • Hey Nancy. Thanks for reading and your kind words. I am glad that I can keep your attention. I wish your mom well and the best. Thank you for sharing.

  • I loved this post. I’m really touched by your description of your moment with the stranger who urged you to speak to your mother, and it’s awesome that your mom held you down the ways moms do, by taking immediate action!!! Also, I’m so glad you’re ok!

    • Thanks Shuba. Moms are great like that. I am just blessed to have her. Thank you for reading, I am glad you like the story.