Let me just say this, "Ah, . . . yes, breast cancer can and does hurt!"
The intellectual side of me knows that only up to 15% of all cancer diagnoses are from patients presenting with pain. However, when you are one of those 15%, it's rather discouraging to keep hearing and reading that "breast cancer doesn't hurt."
Back in October, when I felt the new lump and felt the pain, I remember telling Art, "I'm not too worried about this, but I have to get it checked out. It really hurts!" By the time December came, the pain was shooting up and down my arm and would literally cause me to gasp aloud as I was writing on a chalkboard.
Later, I asked the breast specialist what was causing the pain. He said that since the tumor was so close to the skin, it was pressing on nerve endings in the skin. Sure enough, as the chemotherapy causes the tumor to shrink, I find that the pain is much, much less in intensity. Halfway through chemo, I find myself having very little tumor pain.
I do encourage my friends to learn their bodies. Women, do self-breast exams every time you shower. At first, you won't know what you are feeling and it may feel downright strange! (Breast tissue can be lumpy and bumpy.) However, by becoming familiar with your body with daily exams, you'll be able to note when something different happens. Learn to trust your instincts . . . if something is different for a couple of cycles, then get it checked out. If you experience pain, then get it checked out. Making an appointment doesn't mean you are going to have a negative diagnosis, but it does mean you are taking charge of your own health.
Later, I'll write more about pain. It's real and it hurts.