I will preface this blog post with sharing with you that I am a hypochondriac (self–diagnosed, of course).
Anecdote one: I am currently suffering from a cold. I recently woke up around 3:00 a.m. from a coughing fit. I decided to walk my pathetic self over to the bathroom to blow my nose and when I looked at the tissue (isn’t it weird to look at the tissue? Like, what was I expecting? Confetti?) I almost fainted because I saw BLOOD. I quickly jumped to conclusions, thinking that I may be suffering from the Black Death.
A quick search through my WebMD app (conveniently placed next to the Bible app, you know, for emergencies) proved that I was not dying and that my nose was probably dry and/or I had been blowing my nose way too much.
Anecdote two: The health insurance provided by my job has a wellness program feature in which I am able to upload workouts for points. With theses points, I’m able to access different levels and win things like Michael Kors bags or iPads. Anyway, a few months ago during a staff meeting, our CEO was congratulating those who had achieved upper levels and my name came up. Since I don’t workout because I’m a lazy slob, I wondered how I was part of that group. Well, doctor appointments have a point system of their own, much like the workouts. And since I am still convinced that I am a diabetic (I mean, I’m always lightheaded and have to pee) or suffering from some sort of malady, well, I achieved success.
Story time: I’ve been meaning to go to the doctor to check out this little red bump I have on my chest. I tried to not think of it too much but images of having to sell my house so that I could pay for treatments kept popping in my head. I finally made an appointment and mentally prepared myself for the worst news…
…My boobs were fine and it was just another case of me thinking way too much into the situation. However, I did learn something new from my doctor.
I am pretty familiar with the methods of self-checking for breast cancer. Those are pretty much hammered into our heads from an early age. But when my doctor moved from my chest to my collarbone and arms, I was inclined to ask her if the appointment included a free massage.
As it turns out, swelling around your collarbone is a symptom of a pretty aggressive form of breast cancer and the swelling might occur even before lumps appear on your breasts.
She checked my lymph nodes under my arms because that is actually one of the first places that breast cancer is likely to spread.
- Lymph node-negative means the lymph nodes do not contain cancer.
- Lymph node-positive means the lymph nodes contain cancer (Susan G. Komen).
All this to let you know that it is not enough for you to just self-check your boobies! Remember to check your collarbones and arms, to schedule your annual exam with your doctor and if you see something that concerns you, even if it turns out that you’re being a hypochondriac, MAKE AN APPOINTMENT AND GET ANSWERS! You can never be too careful! I care for you, reader. Listen to me.