A couple months ago a friend of mine posted a photo on Facebook waiting to get a colonoscopy done. Totally weird, but if it makes one person more aware and comfortable to get one done, than all the better. Awareness is better than hiding from symptoms.
So here’s my story of awareness for you.
Five weeks after giving birth is when I found it.
Great, one more thing to worry about!
What was it you ask?
A lump………….in my breast.
Now realistically breast cancer is very rare in young breastfeeding mothers, but it’s still possible.
I was pretty sure it was just a clogged duct from breastfeeding and would go away in a week or so. I mean if you’ve ever breastfed or were the significant other of someone who breastfed, than you know that breasts get pretty weird and lumpy. Hahaha just what you wanted to know right? Four weeks later and it was still there. I figured it was time to go to the doctor and get a definite answer so I didn’t have to worry about it anymore.
After my examination, the doctor was pretty sure it was something called a galactocele. Bet you’ve never heard of that before. It’s basically a cyst that is formed in a mammary gland from the breast milk. It is a little uncomfortable at times and you can see it in the breast. Sorry folks, no picture this time!
Since I was exclusively breastfeeding, we decided to hold off on any radiology imaging. While typical ultrasounds and mammography are considered safe while breastfeeding, if there’s no reason for putting radiation in your breast milk than why do it? So we decided to see if there was any change in four weeks.
Well about 2 weeks after that initial visit I got a small red spot around the location, which then turned into a large red spot. Great! Another doctor visit the next day. Luckily it was only mastitis, an infection in the breast tissue, and I was given a course of antibiotics. I knew I didn’t want to wait because if you let mastitis go, you end up feeling the same as having the flu. Not really an option with a baby and toddler in the house.
Two weeks after the mastitis, I went back for a check up and we decide to do an ultrasound since the lump was still there.
I got my ultrasound the following week and to my surprise I got to speak with the doctor in the office who was reading the radiology that day. He confirmed it was a galactocele and showed me the imaging. Then he told me how he had never seen these other nodules on an imaging of a galactocele before. Leave it to me to have something so common, yet not common. When my actual doctor called me after receiving the reports, I was told they do see these nodules around the cysts occasionally when you’ve had an infection around the galactocele. It was basically pockets of the residual infection around the galactocele.
So now what you ask?
Now I wait.
I was given the option to do a needle aspiration. It’s when they stick a fine needle into the cyst to drain the fluids in it. I decided to hold off and only do that if it became extremely uncomfortable. Besides, from what I’ve researched it will just fill back up after being drained.
Typically after a woman finishes breastfeeding, the body will reabsorb the milk and the cyst will disappear. The problem is that since I already had an infection related to the cyst and there was actual fluid and not just the thicker fat and proteins of the milk still in the cyst, I have the chance of it turning into an abscess. So I have to be aware of any change in the size, shape, pain, etc. of the cyst and location. Now I get to wait about another 8 months. Since I’m planning on breastfeeding for at least a year, I will have to have a follow up ultrasound a couple months after I have finished. The only problem is before it will possibly reabsorb, it will most likely grow and become painful since the milk is no longer being drained from the breast. So if the cyst does not get reabsorbed by my body, then I’ll probably have to have it surgically removed to ensure it doesn’t cause me any problems since it will still have fluid in it.
I definitely don’t want anymore unnecessary infections or surgical procedures. The thing about removing the cyst if it doesn’t reabsorb is I’ve read that they typically remove the whole mammary gland. Hopefully that’s not my case and my body just does it’s own thing and absorbs it.
Luckily for me my mass turned out to be something benign, but it’s definitely better to follow up than to worry. I could have not gone to the doctor for months and just worried over what it possibly could be, but I’m glad I didn’t wait. While it’s something I still have to deal with, at least I know it is nothing serious.
So if you have something that is making you worry, just go get it checked out! Finding a mass is not something you want to wait out and worry over what it can be.
Enjoy Your Adventure,
FTC Disclosure: This is my personal experience. Please consult a medical professional for any medical advice.