We all have pet peeves, right? Habits that make our skin crawl, sounds that are like fingernails on a blackboard (google it, millenials). But anymore, some of my worst peeves are stupid dangerous myths and conspiracy theories. Particularly if they are delivered by medical professionals who swear to protect us.
As Pinktober winds down, I feel that I need to do a PSA to dispell the myth that most makes me nuts. Think of it as my curtain call until next year.
Myth: Only benign tumors are painful.
LIE. BIG LIE. Dare I say, BIG ASS LIE.
It baffles me as to why this idea is still perpetuated. And why it’s spread by doctors. Doctors who should know better. I mean, logically it never makes sense to me if something is always or never. We know everyone is different, and there is often an exception to the rule. I’m sure there is some study out there of maybe ten patients and their tumors didn’t hurt. Maybe it’s some molecular study done on hamsters. I really don’t give a flying toot, because I am here today to break the bad news to you.
Tumors can be painful.
Take me, for example. When my tumor was found on a mammogram, it measured 6mm. That’s tiny. Pull out a ruler, turn it to the weird side with the metric measurements you haven’t seen since fourth grade, and look at how small that actually is. I couldn’t feel it. Neither could the ob/gyn that I first saw. Nor could the surgeon, radiologist, medical oncologist, radiation oncologist, another radiologist, a PCP, and the parade of medical staff at the hospital who seemed to randomly feel me up (I sort of took them at their word that they worked there).
So how did I come to be diagnosed?
I rolled over in bed one night, and noticed a sharp, needle-like pain in my breast. I realized that I had been noticing it for a few weeks, to varying degrees. It wasn’t going away, so it wasn’t a bruise. It was in the same spot every time, but I couldn’t feel a lump. But it was very wrong, and I knew it meant something. I went to the doctor a few weeks later, and he scheduled a diagnostic mammogram and ultrasound that spotted my pretty little lump.
Seriously. That pain saved my life.
I ended up being treated for stage 3 cancer because even a tiny little lump can invade the lymph nodes quickly. This is why early detection is so important, and why nothing out of the ordinary should be ignored. But more importantly, no doctor should dismiss our concerns because they assume a painful lump is benign. This is why we have second (or third) opinions. It’s time to get beyond the myth. It’s time for doctors to stop telling us that we are imagining the pain. It’s time we stand up for ourselves and each other, and demand that we are taken seriously. I have spent 47 years in this body. I know what it is trying to tell me.
See you for #pinktober2018.