I grew up faster than most of the girls in my class. Not only did I seem wiser and smarter than most of my peers, I was also bigger and, physically, maturing faster.
While girls were playing doll-house and tea parties, I was either playing soccer with my brother at the back of the house, or had my head buried in an Enid Blyton book. When my brother left for secondary school in another state however, things changed. By the time he came home for holidays I could no longer enjoy the sport with him as it had become impossible to take off my shirt due to the mounds growing on my chest. I had grown. And in no time those little mounds became well developed double Ds.
I first felt it four years ago. Not from deliberately searching, but an accidental graze brought my fingers in contact with a “seedy substance” on my right breast. Panic! After a few days of deliberating, I made mum “feel” it too and it was off to the Doctor’s for me.
I never expect good news from Doctors but when after a couple of scans and more “feels”, the Doctor declared that there was nothing to worry about – yet, I could have kissed him. I however conveniently forgot the part where he said to come back in six months; for as far as I could see and feel, nothing had changed.
With time, routinely examining my breasts became the norm – more out of fear than anything else. On one such checks, I noticed it had appearance on my left breast. This time, I chose to ignore. I told myself that, if I did not bother it, it would not bother me. When however with each occasional touch it seemed to have grown from the last time, I decided I would have it looked at – eventually.
Days turned into weeks, and weeks into months and I was yet to go. But a few weeks ago, I read Chidinma’s post here on 360nobs (Pink ribbon) and decided since I was going to be in Abuja at the time, I might as well have them looked at. It wasn’t one of the easier decisions I have made in my life. For days I swung between not going for it and just walking through the venue. I was not sure I was prepared for a confirmation of…what? Even I didn’t know for sure.
The breast examination confirmed that I indeed had lumps on both breasts and needed further tests to determine what they were. As I lay on the bed for the scan, I could not get the word “cancer” out of my head. The gel on my breasts as the radiologist “worked” on me felt cooler than I expected, almost cold, like preparation for surgery. Images of bald women suffering from the effects of chemotherapy were stamped on my mind. Scan over, I had to wait for a Doctor to look through the result and then of course write his verdict – my sentence. The images just would not leave my head. They seemed to flash faster, the only thing faster was my heartbeat. After what seemed like an eternity, the result was handed to me.
I had a total of six lumps, four on the right breast and two on the left. And all the grammar and Latin written simply meant that I needed surgery.
As I looked at the result, one medical term after another making absolutely no sense to me my heart sank lower and lower. So I had toyed with thoughts of breast surgery, but it was just in my head and for reduction, not this!
I befriended Google and, perusing line after line, the summary of it is that the lumps are benign but it is safer to have them removed.
Now I wait, in fear of going under the knife, for the day of the surgery that would bring to an end the menace that has held me in bondage to fear for years. Fear of the unknown. For had I refused to have the lumps checked, I would still be in captivity to the ‘big C’. My heart missing a beat every time the word is mentioned. Afraid to feel my breasts for fear that another intruder would have crept in.
This simple procedure that has bought me, if nothing else, my peace of mind.
PS(Franque): There will be a free breast cancer screening on the 8th of October 2011 at the Silverbird Galleria, Lagos.