In October of 2016, I started experiencing some health issues. I began to have abnormally severe pain in both of my breasts. I didn't think anything of it at first; I figured they might've been sore since I was active at the gym. But, the pain got increasingly worse, and so did the fear.
The pain became so bad, I stopped going to the gym completely to see if that was the problem. The pain still persisted, so my next thought was growing pains. I have been experiencing them periodically since my breasts began to grow at age 10, so I thought, "This is just another growth spurt. It'll be over in a week." But, it wasn't. I was also starting to get painful blisters on them that would pop and emit puss. This is when I knew I had a problem.
Finally, in the midst of Hurricane Matthew, I decided to pay my campus clinic a visit before they closed for the weather. By this point, the pain was getting so bad at times that I couldn't sleep, I was extremely uncomfortable during my classes, and I couldn't wear tight clothing. I stopped wearing a bra to bed, tried to sleep on my back, and yet, it was still getting worse.
The doctor had a few things in mind: pregnancy, which was a definite no; infection, which was entirely plausible; or, since cancer runs in my family, the very tiny possibility of breast cancer.
She told me not to worry, but I couldn't help but put my hoodie on in the rain and sulk the entire way back to my dorm. Although it was such a minuscule chance, I couldn't help being afraid. I was 19 years old at the time, almost done with my sophomore year of college, and all of a sudden, I got hit with the possibility of having an illness that plagues countless women every year, and takes away just as many.
I went home the next weekend to see three different doctors. I had many breast exams done, an ultrasound, until finally, I just had to wait for results. About a week or so later, I got a call from the doctor's office. I was hoping that they could just tell me the results over the phone and could handle any diagnosis. They said they couldn't, but in my notes, it apparently said, "Appointment needed, urgent, as soon as possible." My heart sank. If it was urgent and they needed to see me in person, I figured it had to be worst case scenario.
As much as I didn't want to admit it, I rescheduled my appointment once because I didn't want to go to it. I didn't want to hear the impending bad news, I didn't want to start talking about my treatment options, and I didn't want to hear my chances of survival. Luckily for me, former President Barack Obama came to my university for a rally, and that was the perfect distraction and excuse.
The night before my doctor appointment, I couldn't sleep. Granted, I couldn't sleep any night in the month period between my first clinic visit and this appointment, but the night before, I really didn't sleep. My father couldn't sleep, and my mother was up all night sick and throwing up. As much as we hoped I was fine, we still couldn't help but to expect the worse.
We went at 9 AM and was done by 9:30. The doctor gave me the best news possible: nothing was there. No cysts, no lumps, no anything. The only bad news was that we never did quite figure out what it was. I've been on the same birth control method for over a year now, so it shouldn't have been the cause. I was active at the gym, but this started two months into my working out progress. It could've been my bras, but I didn't sleep with them on and they were all relatively the correct size. It's still a mystery.
Roughly a week after that appointment, all the pain went away. I haven't gotten any blisters since, and they only get a tad sore at the end of my birth control pack, which is normal. I learned shortly afterward that my parents were looking for houses and jobs in Jacksonville, so in the event that I did have cancer and needed treatment, they could be my side every step of the way. They're still moving here on the account of my sister and I now going to UNF in the fall, but the fact that they were willing to drop everything and move 130 miles for me made me realize that my parents are truly one of a kind and would do anything for me. The whole time between my first and last appointments, my sister checked up on me every single day, and told me if I did have cancer, she was going to shave her head with me. I had a lot of old high school friends check up on me more often. It made me realize that if I were going to face it, I was going to face it with the company and love of all my friends and family. I realized that I wasn't alone, and that was all I needed.
Side note: it turns out my results were mailed to me about a week after I had my last test done. My family had forgotten to check our mailbox all month. Moral of the story? Check your dang mailbox every once in a while.