Fibrocystic breasts, anyone? I'm a little freaked out.

reno_fanMay 23, 2006

Ever hear of it? Have it? Know someone who does/has?

Went to the doc today to check out some tenderness. Also noticed a slight indentation on one side. They told me it looked like I had Fibrocystic Breast Condition. They're sending me for diagnostic mammogram tomorrow. (!!!)

Can I just *tell* you how sufficiently freaked out I am? While in the waiting room, there was a girl my age or younger (32) who was bald, apparently undergoing some kind of treament. Then leaving, there was another girl about my age in the elevator crying. Then I find out that my doc requested an "urgent" mammogram/breast ultrasound appointment to have me checked out.

I know breast cancer awareness is vital, but I swear all the coverage on it has proven to make me quite the shivering wreck in the face of my own unsure circumstances. Even though I left my appt. with her telling me NOT to lose sleep over this; it's most likely just fibrocystic breasts; etc, I cannot help but be quite alarmed.

Thankfully(???) I'm also having jaw muscle spasms that have made it impossible for me to eat, and the dentist prescribed me some muscle relaxers. At least I won't keep myself awake worrying tonight!

Oy. Where's my margarita?

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Reno fan, I'll be thinking of you while you wait for your results. (I don't know anything about this, but know how I'd be feeling!) Go ahead and make a pitcher...uh...maybe not with the muscle relaxers. Or ditch the drugs, and get a big straw. (((hugs)))

Keep us posted. We'll be waiting to hear what you find out.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2006 at 5:47PM
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CDL, thank you! I'll take all the good thoughts I can get! I'm going to sign off the computer for a while tonight. I've done myself in with worry! (I think Googling for health issues should be illegal.....)

    Bookmark   May 23, 2006 at 6:17PM
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I have fibrocystic disease, too. Tenderness would come and go depending on the time of the month. A few times the cysts did not disappear with my monthly cycle and I've needed to have them aspirated (needle to remove fluid, which relieves tenderness).
Stress can increase the monthly cysts.
I usually need a sonogram when I have my yearly mammogram to check that the "lumps" are indeed cysts.
I think it is a fairly common problem for women.
Cysts are hormone driven, so the outbreaks decrease as you go through menopause.

I hope all goes well for you.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2006 at 6:22PM
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I've had them since college (gosh, has it really been 30 years?). I would develop soreness near the lymph nodes right before my period. When I was having kids & nursing, the problems diminished to the point that I forgot about the condition, and has only recently returned (thanks to all that perimenopausal hormone weirdness). About 7 years ago I developed a "lump" that a mammogram showed to be a benign cyst. I check it frequently; it grows a bit & gets sore before menstruation, just like the other fibrocystic garbage, then everything returns to normal after I start my period. Seems like this is common in my mother's family...and no breast cancer. There, did I put you at ease a bit? Hope so.

Below's a link. I'm sure you've seen it already?

Here is a link that might be useful: fibrocystic breasts: an overview

    Bookmark   May 23, 2006 at 6:33PM
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Gail, that's what the doc's Nurse Practitioner told me too. She said that's why they scheduled the mammogram/sonogram; just to be sure the cysts were cysts. (Why does that NOT ease my mind???) She said it's quite common. Stress, huh? That's what the dentist told me is (most likely) the cause of my jaw muscle spasms. I wonder if there's a correlation b/w the two. I must be more stressed than I realized! I have "lockjaw", and cysts!

She also said I should cut my caffeine intake down from 2 cups of coffee/day to 1. Grrrrrrrr. I'll likely have mushier boobs, but I'll be an ogre!

    Bookmark   May 23, 2006 at 6:34PM
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Wow, no awm, I hadn't seen that. Very helpful! Thank you.

I think what's freaking me out at this point is the slight indentation I have on one side, that can only really be seen when I raise my hands above my head. I was stretching before a shower and happened to look in the mirror and see it. The NP said it's most likely due to the fact that I have so many cysts, (5 that she could feel) but my friend's mom who's been fighting breast cancer for over a year found a similar indentation. ('course she left it unchecked for years.....)

    Bookmark   May 23, 2006 at 6:40PM
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reno, I'm sure hoping they turn out to be fibrocysts. I've had *two* procedures to drain fibrocysts right in the same place (YUCK YUCK YUCK and that's not laughing). The procedure is yucky, I'll tell ya. I've had it mostly rise up the last two weeks of my cycle, in a spot where I got a little plugged duct when I'd been nursing. It'd always gone down after my period, and then come up again around day 18 or so...Anyway, the second time I had the procedure was when it didn't go down after my period and started to look a little pulled around it. They "emergency" xrayed and sonogram'ed it which made me nervous like you are now, and it was still liquid, just really full this time, but not a growth. They extracted a disgustingly large amount of fluid from what I'd thought was a tiny little cyst. No wonder it had gotten so hard. And also, because it was hard, it was difficult for the surgeon (breast specialist) to get into it--it kept popping out from under the needle! YUCKKK!!!!! So I had to lie there and not barf while he was squirming around trying to pin it down. UGHHH...but hey, it has been a lot worse for other women so I took what I got gladly. Well, fairly gladly.

I can really easily control the growths, now that I know, by regulating caffeine and taking vitamin E. They're also a sign of estrogen dominance.

Hope this helps you, and my thoughts also go out to that young woman in the elevator and the young woman undergoing treatment.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2006 at 7:02PM
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Thank you Fly! You're right on. My heart just really goes out to the other 2 girls I saw. Mine are probably nothing (in comparison).

Sure will be glad, though, to know for certain. I'm about to go fill my "lockjaw" prescription, so hopefully I won't even be aware that I *have* breasts after taking those....LOL!!

    Bookmark   May 23, 2006 at 7:07PM
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Stephanie, I can understand you being a little freaked out. I had my first breast lump removed when I was 21, and another when I was 32. Both were benign, thank goodness. They tried to aspirate, but my cysts weren't filled with fluid, so it didn't work. I was never actually told that I had fibrocystic breast disease (or maybe I was told and I forgot), but ever since then I have been hyper-sensitive about my breast health, even tho there is no history of breast cancer in my family.

FWIW, all my mammograms since then have been fine. (I'm getting digital ones now, which work better for "me.")

I'll be thinking of you. Please let us know how it goes.


    Bookmark   May 23, 2006 at 7:18PM
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Reno, yes, I have them, too. Have another margarita, but not a latte. They'll tell you to give up caffeine.

You will be fine, honey.

FBD is fairly common. Nonetheless, fibrocystic or not, it IS ALWAYS important to investigate ANY lumps. Your Dr. is all over this, which is what you want. Since the cysts wax and wane and whatnot, they need a baseline to refer to should you develop any others. Call the mammogram facility and make sure they will take a digital. Eventually, you will have a digital, might as well do it now. If they don't have digital available, your Dr.'s office will help you find another facility that is on your insurance. Debra Mitchell's group in Edmond on Kelly, I think- and Lakepointe (Lakeside?) Imaging on Hefner and the Parkway are cutting edge, as are the University Hospitals. I've been to Lakeside and they have absolutely painless mammograms.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2006 at 9:32PM
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Definitely watch your caffeine intake- chocolate counts, too.
Cysts are usually benign, so I am confident you are OK.
I know all this worry just compounds the stress, but try to breathe deeply and calm down. I know that's easier said than done, but try.
You are in my thoughts and prayers. Keep us posted.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2006 at 9:34PM
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The most important thing is always to get it looked at quickly and you're doing that.

I have a friend with severe f.c. breast disease and she's had a few procedures but she's totally fine. I also had a needle aspiration last year -- the first time ever and the little lump was found with the half yearly sonogram. He did it right on the spot and it was gone and has not returned. I hope and pray yours will be gone as quickly.

Let me take this opportunity to once again urge every woman over 45 reading this to schedule a yearly mammogram. For those of us with bad family histories, a sonogram every six months, alternating with the mammogram.

That has kept me healthy for many years now and gives me great peace of mind.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2006 at 10:36PM
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Here too, Reno.

These days the worst is that *every year* we do the mammogram, *then* they decide to do an ultrasound. Which I have to schedule and wait for. No amount of begging or arguing skips the first step or allows back to back scheduling of both. I hate the interim. Health care mazes can make you nuts. But on balance I have no complaints, as so far so good.

Way worst was the first year, when I freaked out for several days between the tests, finally get to the ultrsound, and the technician insists the "lump" is in my left breast, and dismisses my trying to say it was the right. Cripes, like I perhaps wasn't paying attention a week earlier? Like that moment with my doc wasn't seared into my brain? Like I hadn't totally obsessed about it every minute since? I wanted to throttle that tech. Fortunately the wonderful radiologist just said, "Hey, what say we just do a twofer?" and did both. Smart.

I remember bursting into tears driving home when it hit me that I was fine. And I remember talking with my priest later about how in my prayers I'd given it over, and I really accepted and believed that whichever way it went I would handle it. I'm not even usually that religious.

Whew. Powerful memories.

I want to validate all you are feeling. It was such an shock to comtemplate severe illness or worse. Absolutely overwhelming. Expect to walk around dazed and preoccupied till you get through this. Tell people in your life you need and want support, and you need to be held and you need to hear "Everything will be alright."

And later, trust me, it gets better. Whatever happens you grow into it, you deal with it. The shock and the not knowing is the worst. And that will pass.

Will be thinking about you...Everything will be alright.(((((( ))))))

    Bookmark   May 23, 2006 at 11:41PM
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i get a mamo every year. i always have to go back a second time for a 'closer look' because i have 'fiborus breasts'. on the first look, it doesn't look good, but after a further sonogram, everything checks out ok. Freaked me out the first time this happened.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2006 at 8:05AM
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Reno, I sounded a bit dismissive in my post- didn't realize it until Celticmoon so wisely acknowledged your feelings. I apologize- I was addressing the factual issues regarding local treatment and not you as a precious person. (((hugs))) and love to you- and I'm praying that you have peace and confidence and an 'all clear' report. You know how to reach me if you need ANYTHING.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2006 at 8:32AM
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Pecan, you didn't sound dismissive at all!! I got what you were saying.

Thank you all for sharing your personal experiences. I feel 100% better, just reading that my symptoms are fairly common for the ailment.

Way deep down, under all of the fear in my head, I feel that I'm perfectly fine. (Even if I required some sort of treatment). I know I'll be fine. I had to take a night to center myself again, and really listen to what my body is telling me. (Apparently it's telling me I'm stressed???!!!!) But really, I have a complete peace that I'm fine. Now it's just a matter of the sonogram/mammogram confirming that.

Now giving up my coffee, on the other hand, could prove to be realllllly stressful! They said that they normally advise their patients to cut *down* to 2 cups/day or less, which is all I currently drink! Urf.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2006 at 8:38AM
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I drink two cups a day too, and no one will be able to get me to stop unless...well, I can't think of what would make me stop LOL...

Try taking vitamin E, too. Do you take that?

    Bookmark   May 24, 2006 at 11:26AM
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Not yet, Fly. But I just bought some last night. How much E do you take? I know in excessive doses it can be harmful, but I've not yet talked with the doc to see what's excessive.

So you still have symptoms under control, even with 2 cups/day? (Reno_fan hears a chorus of angels singing at the thought......)

    Bookmark   May 24, 2006 at 11:35AM
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LOL, fly!! Me, too. I drink a whole lot more than 2 cups a day. High-octane, if I can get it. I'd give it up if I could, but it's my only vice. I would be so boring (and asleep) if I did.

What's this about vitamin E?

    Bookmark   May 24, 2006 at 11:46AM
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I am convinced that there is no better word on earth than *benign.*

Phew. I do have some issues, but they are non cancerous. I'm so relieved I can barely breathe. Thank you all for the virtual hand holding!

I have some calcium deposits, some fibrocystic tissue, and an enlarged milk duct ((????)), but nothing out of the ordinary or scary. NOW I can go get my margarita!

    Bookmark   May 24, 2006 at 4:45PM
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Good for you!

    Bookmark   May 24, 2006 at 6:56PM
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YAY reno!! So glad you're okay!

Count me in as having FC too. And my mother had it before me. She was always getting things aspirated. I refused the one time we found something in a sonogram. "Just leave it I said". It went away on it's own. It's particularly bad once a month, lots of soreness. Monitor yourself and watch the caffeine. I have found alot of coffee truly makes it much worse.

Don't worry sweets!

    Bookmark   May 24, 2006 at 7:52PM
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Yay Reno! So glad your news is good. But I know how it feels when you get the first "news" and it's very scary no matter what.

But it's behind you now and you'll become a member of the "punctual and consistent about monitoring club".

    Bookmark   May 24, 2006 at 8:50PM
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Great news Reno!

    Bookmark   May 24, 2006 at 9:19PM
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Hoo boy. I'll tell ya, I'm needing that vacation more and more......

They told me that stress plays a big part in exacerbating these symptoms. Then to have the dentist tell me that my jaw spasms were most likely stress-related...well, I'm starting to pick up a pattern!

I didn't *think* I was stressed at all. Really. I'm having to constantly check myself to see if my shoulders are hunched, my brow furrowed, and my jaw clenched. I've surprised myself a number of times with the realization that I'm a ball of negative emotion! Wowza.

You can bet I'll be taking better care of my emotional and physical self! Punctual and consistent monitoring is right!!

(btw Rococogurl, I only somewhat recently found out that you were not Bohemian Belle/Scarlet Henry! I saw a few posts under this screen name and I thought it was Belle! As the kids say, "My bad...." LOL!!)

    Bookmark   May 24, 2006 at 9:36PM
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YEAH Reno! I'm lifting a cup of espresso to you :)

"Ease Fibrocystic Breasts with E

Although clinical studies during the past decade have yielded mixed results and no research has been done recently, vitamin E remains a commonly recommended supplement for treating fibrocystic breastsÂone that many doctors swear by.

"Honestly, I donÂt think anyone can tell you exactly why vitamin E works against fibrocystic breasts," says Dr. Lark. "We know just that it relieves symptoms caused by excessive estrogen levels and that it has an anti-inflammatory effect that gives many women relief from their symptoms."

Echoing those sentiments is Bernard Ginsberg, M.D., a physician in private practice in Santa Monica, California, who became interested in the value of vitamin therapy while working at the Research Institute at Sinai Hospital in Baltimore with Robert London, M.D., assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore.

"I was doubtful about it in the beginning, but during the past ten years, IÂve found that vitamin therapy can really make a difference," says Dr. Ginsberg, who has concentrated much of his practice on womenÂs health and natural healing. "Vitamin E, along with vitamin B6, counteracts the swelling effects of estrogen. It also increases the metabolism of female hormones, getting them out of circulation."

Both Dr. Lark and Dr. Ginsberg recommend that women with fibrocystic breasts take about 600 international units of vitamin E daily, an amount that was used and found to be successful in several studies of vitamin E and fibrocystic breasts, says Dr. Lark."

Here is a link that might be useful: just one result--google and you find more

    Bookmark   May 24, 2006 at 9:44PM
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I've had so many lumps over the years, I've lost count! I think my first lump appeared when I was abt 24yo. I am just prone to lumps. There have been some that the Dr. could not see clearly on the mamogram and so I had to have it aspirated but everything was fine. I also saw an Onocologist every 6 mos for 2 yrs but he told me that there was no reason to continue seeing him as he saw no point. One Dr. told me that lumps can be caused from drinking an excessive amount of coffee, which I do.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2006 at 10:08PM
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I too have fibrocystic breasts. It isn't a dangerous condition in itself other than it can mask a real tumor on a mammogram and it can also make you numb to the numerous lumps you will feel all the time, perhaps missing a cancerous one. My breasts feel like downhill moguls sometimes, esp, around my period.

If you have fibrocystic breast disease, you should always get (INSIST) on an ultrasound in addition to a mammogram, as a mammogram doesn't always show everything accurately in these types of breasts.

I've had lumpy breasts since puberty. As you may remember last summer I had surgery to remove a papilloma in a milk duct. Nothing to with fibrocystic breast disease, but it was there. At around the same time I also had a lump aspirated in the other breast. The strange thing is (and to prove how testy these breasts are) is that when it was seen in mammogram and ultrasound, it was solid and surgery was scheduled for that breast, too. The next week they went to check it again, and when it didn't show up on the subsequent pre-op MRI, found that in a week's time it had turned from solid to a liquid cyst (of which I have dozens already). They aspirated it, and it was nothing. I still did have the surgery on the other side, though (and that was also benign).

I go every year now for a mammogram and ultrasound. Previously I went every two years. I'm only 36.

Welcome to the world of testy breasties! LOL I'm sure you'll be sounds very fibrocysitc-y from what you described. Keep us updated.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2006 at 1:03AM
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Looks like there is a very high incidence of estrogen dominance here among us...anyone read Lee's "What your doctor may not tell you about..." series?

    Bookmark   May 25, 2006 at 1:25AM
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Reno --

That's very funny. I changed over from fatlester when the forum logons switched as I got tired of people telling me my name sounded perv-y. LOL!

    Bookmark   May 25, 2006 at 10:43AM
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Ah, rococo, that explains it! Thanks for sharing your past name. I always thought fatlester was funny, but in a haha way, not a weird way...

    Bookmark   May 25, 2006 at 11:00AM
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Reno, glad all is well. Sigh of relief...

    Bookmark   May 25, 2006 at 11:27AM
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Thank you all so much.

For the record, I don't recommend having a yearly ob/gyn appointment, a mammogram, a breast ultrasound, and a dental exam all in 2 days....especially right before you're heading out of town. Stress? What stress??

    Bookmark   May 25, 2006 at 11:33AM
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Just checked in (don't spend much time even on conversations lately).... glad to hear that it's what they thought and not the other.

re: caffeine... reducing your caffeine intake really helps! And helps the stress management too. Take it from an ex-caffeine junkie. At my worst, 2 cups of coffee and 6-10 diet cokes a day!! (I LOVE diet coke in a can!)

I've been caffeine free for 3.5 years now! Well, mostly caffeine-free, it's hard to avoid it completely...

I was never a chocoholic (I didn't even like chocolate until my mid-thirties!) so I don't eat much of it... but I haven't given it up. I also drink decaf coffee... which does have small amounts of caffeine. I may have a caffeinated root beer by mistake once in a while (some, like barq's, has caffeine, some, like A&W, doesn't). I don't drink real coffee. In fact in the past 3.5 years the only real coffee I had was that first summer while touring in Scotland and it became more of a problem to get decaf than just drink the stuff... and I wasn't fully weaned. now, I'd just skip it!

I cut back in a couple of steps... went from 8-10 diet cokes a day to 2, keeping my cups of coffee at 1-2, or drinking decaf if it was just as available. I was very proud of myself. I remember the conversation with my doctor, though, when telling him I had "cut back" from nearly a case of diet coke a day. "That's really good!" he said. "Now Quit."

I have noticed the differences of being caffeine free. The withdrawal week was tough, but not as tough as I expected. Now, I am less cystic (my are mostly POS-polycystic ovarian syndrome), have less headaches, and show better stress management.

Not too long ago I was out to dinner. When dessert was served I dug in, took one bite, and could "feel" the espresso hit my blood stream. And it wasn't pleasant. I was eating Tiramisu, made the "right" way! I don't eat tiramisu anymore, either!!

Good Luck!

    Bookmark   May 25, 2006 at 12:24PM
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Hi reno,
I have it too. I used to drink Diet Coke but Dr. advised me to stop entirely which I did. (the artificial sweetener isn't good either for other reasons).

Now I only drink 1 cup of coffee in AM, tea at lunch and green tea after dinner, that's it. I don't eat chocolate or any other caffeine products.

I get a "manual" breast exam done by OBGYN at 6 months and by Family doctor 6 months later.

I get an annual mammogram. I had one slight scare with a suspicious small cyst once so I had to see a breast specialist once but it was not serious.

The worst part is doing a manual breast check by myself. Everything feels lumpy so I am constantly paranoid since I can't tell what is normal or not.

Having the doctors do the 2 separate manual checks at 6 month intervals help put me at ease somewhat since they are double checking.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2006 at 5:01PM
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Joel calls them "supersonic breasts" for what THAT'S worth.


    Bookmark   May 25, 2006 at 6:53PM
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Reno, great news!! (in Chicago away from net a few days)Momentous relief, hey? I'm relieved and happy for you.

Colors looking clearer, music more beautiful, and that 'don't sweat the small stuff' maxim takes on new meaning.

Enjoy your health. Live well.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2006 at 8:53PM
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I usually just lurk in conversations, but thought I might chime in here since I've had FBD since I was in my 20s (and I'm in my 40s now!). Reno - congrats on your good news. There's really nothing like those days when your imagination runs rampant with all the things that could be wrong.

Although I've always known that caffeine made matters worse, I never knew that stress did. That explains alot!

Just one reminder (that I'm sure you all know) - it's particularly important if you have FBD to do your monthly self-breast exam (you're all doing those, right?) right after your period, when your breasts are their least dense. It's difficult enough to detect anything, so you want to do your self-exam when the circumstances are optimal.

I find any kind of breast exam the most stressful event, even when I do it myself - perhaps because breast cancer runs in my family. Congrats again Reno on your good news!

    Bookmark   May 30, 2006 at 10:27PM
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