The Day I Found a Lump: Are You Due For a Breast Examination?

I found a small lump in my breast when Immy was just four weeks old.  As a new mother, with hormones raging, I instantly thought of Heidi Middleton of Sass & Bide and her battle with breast cancer, detected just days after the birth of her second child.  And I was scared.  I cried and I worried and I convinced myself that I had breast cancer.

The six hour long long appointment of poking and prodding, ultrasound, and eventual biopsy was both emotionally and physically tough, especially with leaking breastfeeding breasts and a six week old baby in tow. Following an anxious wait for results, I was fortunately given the all clear.  The lump was apparently an abscess which had hardened into a hard, solid ball and I was to keep an eye on it and most likely over time it would disappear. Which it did.

Last night I came across some recent research reporting that new statistics out of the UK suggest that 1 in 8 women will get breast cancer.  Is it only me who thinks, “Wow, that is so high.”  And although the risk continues to rise more rapidly for women 50 years of age (and over), I am just a breath shy 39 where the risk is just 1 in 215.  I am not a big fan of even those types of odds.  That is a lot of women around my age with breast cancer.

“Alarming new figures suggest one in eight women will develop breast cancer, with scientists fearing that a culmination of obesity, alcohol and delayed motherhood are partly to blame.

Experts have described the statistics as a ‘wake up call’ and say the disease could be avoided if women took more care of their health by drinking less, exercising and maintaining a healthy weight.

‘It is also linked to a woman’s reproductive history,’ says Dr Kat Arney, from Cancer Research UK. ‘If a woman starts having children earlier in life she is less at risk.’  Scientists believe the sex hormone oestrogen, which declines during pregnancy, triggers some forms of breast cancer. Women who delay motherhood are therefore exposed to oestrogen for a higher proportion of their lives putting them at higher risk.”


The Cancer Research UK findings that having fewer children later in life also increases an individual’s risk of breast cancer is certainly interesting for myself and my fellow Gen Y mothers (again with the guilt and regret about being an older mother!).  Other lifestyle related factors include drinking in moderation (not an issue for me personally) and maintaining a healthy weight through sensible eating and exercise – the eating I am already starting to take care of and exercise is next on my list!

And at a risk of over sharing, I will say that after reading this research, this morning in the shower I checked my breasts.  Can I kindly suggest that you do too?

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  1. An excellent post and an important reminder. Thank you Christie.

  2. Thanks for sharing. Am overdue for a check up and need to get a move on and get one. P.S. Not sure if I already commented, but love your featured post, too. Great idea to do a featured post. Love the bright yellow painted frames on Immy’s wall. Can only imagine how cool your whole home must be, as what you share looks so nice.

    Have a good weekend.

  3. Great post, Christie.

    I had an abscess in my breast when I was 15. I was terrified. Just two years earlier, my aunty had died from breast cancer (she was only in her mid-30s) and my mum had just that year had breast cancer herself (she recovered). I had to have my abscess operated on because I left it so long, secretly worrying instead of doing anything about it.

    Now, I’m going to some special appointments with a genetic cancer clinic to ascertain my risk, given my family history (all it will mean is I might have to start breast screening earlier than most women). And the thing that spurred me on to get out of my denial and do this? My daughter. I want to set a good example, to be able to tell her in years to come that I did this and encourage her to look after herself.

    I’m so glad it was all OK for you. x

    1. Thank you for sharing, Megan, I am so glad that you are getting advice. You are an example to all of us x

  4. Thankyou for sharing.Its so important to get lumps checked as soon as you find them.It might not always be the dreaded C word, but you can never be too careful.I found a largish lump a while ago and paniced about it.After some tests it turned out to be fibrocystic breast disease (nothing nasty) that gets better and worse with the hormone cycle.If a lump is there, just go to the doctor.Your worth looking after.

    1. That is so true, Jessica – “If a lump is there, just go to the doctor.Your worth looking after.”

  5. I also had a hard abcess (with raging mastitis) when my eldest was 7 weeks old and had all the tests then. Well overdue for a breast exam – thank you for the prompt.

  6. Mary Scott says:

    Hi Christie,
    Thank you for reminding everyone about this important issue. I work in the breast cancer field as a psychologist, and the disease terrifies me too. Although obesity and alcohol are risk factors for breast cancer, if I had a dollar for every normal weight , healthy, exercising woman that I saw who got breast cancer (just think of Kylie Minogue), I’d be very rich indeed. Unfortunately the BIGGEST risk factor by far is simply being a woman, particulary between the ages of 50 and 75, but it can strike at any age. I point this out because of the tendency of women who get breast cancer to think that if they just tried harder to be healthy, they could have avoided it, leading to lots of unnecessary guilt. It’s also good to know that mammograms in Western Australia are free for women over 40 (see for more information). Younger women with a symptom should also ask for an ultrasound and biopsy as mammograms aren’t the best detection method for younger women. Here’s hoping that none of us have to go through it but the good news is that breast cancer caught early is very treatable.

  7. Great post! And did you know that a lump is not the only sign of breast cancer? Others include a hot rash, “bug bites” that don’t heal, a funny orange-peel-like texture on part of the breast, a heaviness, shooting pains … (google “inflammatory breast cancer” or check out the lemons at Worldwide Breast Cancer for more details). Basically, if there’s a change in one breast but not the other, women should call the doctor!

    — Susan @WhyMommy
    four year, four time cancer survivor

  8. Mary Scott’s reply is right on the mark. At 38 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I had a 2 year old at the time and was still nursing. I have always been extremely health conscious, and avid exerciser, organic food eater and work as a health care provider. I found my lump on my own and luckily I went to an a center that didn’t blow me off because I was young and healthy. After a lumpectomy, chemo and radiation I am here with my family and my four year old son. I am now forty and writing this on the due date of my daughter who is kicking away inside me waiting to be born.

    Please check out these resources: What we put on our bodies and in our environment matters so much. These are US sites, sorry, but contain good information.

  9. What an important post and an amazing bunch of comments. Thanks to all for sharing. My Mum has just been though breast cancer and there is hardly a breast left in the older generation of my family! A reminder to be vigilant is always a good thing…

  10. GREAT reminder. One thing I’d add- breast cancer can occur at any age, not just postmenopause. I was diagnosed at 25- a HUGE shock since it didn’t run in my family. Fortunately, it was caught early, and I’m now an almost 7 year survivor with 2 little ones (2 and 6 mos.). I originally wasn’t going to worry because I’d never heard of someone getting it so young, but it happens and it’s important to get any abnormalities checked out!

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