Security Can Blind You But Knowledge Can Help You See

Author: Marygrace Restaino
April 13, 2017

Marygrace Restaino

Marygrace Restaino

Intern at The Side-Out Foundation
I am a student at George Mason University where I study advertising. Currently, I am working as an intern with the Side-Out Foundation where we all work to help spread awareness and raise money for foundation's cutting edge stage IV breast cancer research through the sport of volleyball!
Marygrace Restaino

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We seem to put ourselves in a bubble of security sometimes, a bubble in which we tell ourselves stuff like, “that won’t happen to me” or “what are the odds it will affect me of all people”. Whether our mind stays in this bubble or not, life comes at us with everything its got. I kept my security mindset for years, and maybe in some situations I still have it and that’s how I get through a bad day or even just a bad test grade. However, the thing about the security of putting your mind at ease with everything and telling yourself “that it won’t happen to you” will sometimes make you oblivious to what can actually happen.

When I was a kid, my mother and I used to go to every Susan G. Komen bicycle ride and 5K run there was to do in Virginia Beach. Supporting breast cancer was always a big thing in my family because we carry the breast cancer gene and have had family members succumb to the disease. However, when you are a kid or even a teenager, that security bubble was protected by your parents and siblings, and you still live under those assumptions that you tell yourself.

So me being a kid, I did not really acknowledge the impact or the reason for the race; I just really loved those events because once those three miles were over, there were tents of people giving away free things like food, water, candy, cups, and more. Well, being a normal person who loves free things, I would go from tent to tent with my free bag collecting things that would most likely never be used after that day. For the tents that were more informational about how you should go about checking your breasts and how often you should check them, I would mindlessly listen, nod my head, and shove the pamphlet in my bag with the rest of the stuff. I was stuck in my security bubble with the idea that I would not have to bother with any of this until I was 50 and that’s only if I have the gene. I mean after all, what are the odds something would happen to me?

Isn’t that what we all tell ourselves? I know I did. As I got older, of course my bubble thinned out and the outcomes that followed me were more based off of what I did to achieve them. Unfortunately, medical situations never seem to be something you can predict.

When I was nineteen, I was sitting in my dorm room studying, playing with my necklace and trying to cram for a test that was the biggest worry of my life at the moment. I started to casually scratch my chest when I felt something weird. I began to check my breasts like all those obstetricians told me to at all those races, and I found a lump; and not a little one either.

I freaked, my stomach dropped, and the worst things that could have come to my mind filled my head. Suddenly, that test meant nothing. It took me three days to tell anyone, and when I did I down-played it, not for their ease, but for mine. When I finally told my mom, she told me not to worry because of the way I described it, very free-feeling and marble-like. She told me it was most likely a cyst, and that I should just get it checked out. When I went home for my spring break two weeks later, I went in to get it looked at. I had an ultrasound and the first thing they told me was that my lump was abnormal. Once again, my stomach dropped. I sat there alone covered in freezing cold gel, trying not to cry when they told me over and over again that I had to have it biopsied. Later in the week, I went to see a breast surgeon to get another opinion. When she walked in the room, she felt my lump and immediately said “this is most likely a fibroadenoma, which are usually benign and come in multiples, and I guarantee that you have at least a few more”. I was a little relieved that it was most likely benign and did not believe that there would be more; I mean after all, I just had an ultrasound three days before and they did not say anything about seeing others.

I had six more. The others were relatively small and not at all bothersome, but it was recommended that I get the one that I found removed due to its size (about 2 by 3 cm). The thought of getting surgery scared me more than everything else. I never thought about having to get it removed until they told me. I did not expect anything like this to happen to me. Yes, my bubble was shattered. I was told about twenty percent of women actually get fibroadenomas but they are usually small enough to not be felt. Lucky me, right? Five months later, I got a lumpectomy and it was confirmed to be a benign fibroadenoma. I was as relieved as someone could be from hearing something like that.

Side-Out clinical research creates hope

Since then, I get biannual ultrasounds and have gotten two more lumps removed. I have a total of eleven still and can tell you where each of them are. I check my breasts once a month, right after my period because hormones are a big cause of fibroidenomas. I have done all my research and keep myself educated on any new information that my doctor may bring up. My bubble is still shattered and I am no longer oblivious to what life can actually throw at you. I got lucky. I truly did.

Now, this wasn’t a story about how you should always assume the worst in life or let go of that security you have at a younger age. It is about how even though you may think that there is no way something could happen to you, when it does, take a deep breath, don’t assume the worst, and you will get through it. Life will throw more than a few colds and some stressful days at you and as long as you understand that, you can move forward. Sometimes your worst fear may become a reality; in that case, face the challenge directly and educate yourself if it feels like the fear is taking over. There is strength in knowledge and power facing the challenge directly.

 

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