Matilda and I go way back. To my Sophomore year of high school to be exact. While I was figuring out what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, Matilda made a fashionably late appearance and a lasting impact that is close to my heart. Literally. She is very close to my actual, anatomical heart.
Matilda is the name I gave my fibroadenoma, a benign tumor in my left breast. When I was grabbing my boob as an automatic reaction to the random shooting pains in the middle of Ruby Tuesday and needed to provide a brief explanation to my friends, I would say, “Matilda is being a real b*&%h today – and they would nod with sympathy. It became our little inside joke that allowed me to explain my discomfort in the most socially acceptable way.
I’ve gone through more ultrasounds than I can count. I’ve sat in cold examination rooms with the robe open in the front. (I’m bringing my own denim one next time for my own sanity.) I’ve sat, teary-eyed, nervous, and 23 years old, in sunny waiting rooms for painful biopsies. I’ve wiped the tears streaming from my eyes headed to the paper on the examination room table. I’ve winced as they tried to numb Matilda in her entirety with no success. I’ve cried silently while they collect samples that sound like staple guns.
But, luckily, as temperamental as Matilda has been over the past 8 years, she is non-cancerous. But the same can’t be said for many of the strong women and men who have come before me facing the same fears with not-so-fortunate outcomes.
Although the chances of breast cancer are lower for younger women, I want others to know that self-exams are vital to their health and well-being. And that they are not alone. And that the strength of a woman is something we should never doubt. Read up: