Before I went to Cambodia for my internship with the Open Society Institute in Summer 2010 and around the time of my 1L finals, I discovered a lump about the size of an almond in my right boob.
Somewhat scary. I know. And maybe a little TMI. Get over it.
At the time, the boob almond didn’t seem as scary as cramming all the rules for my Civil Procedure, Contracts, Property, Torts and Criminal Law classes in my head. I conveniently put the slight fear that the lump could mean something scarier aside – my mother had a couple in the past that turned out to be benign – and turned my attention to more important things like collateral estoppel, equitable servitudes and the parol evidence rule.
Between studying for law school exams, worrying about trouble with the Boyfriend around that time, and focusing on the Terrifying Boob Almond, I chose to study for law school exams and deal with life. Terrifying boob almond (“TBA”) was put on the back burner.
I didn’t think about it again until I got back from Cambodia several months later: I was a carefree 2L (well, not quite carefree), and things with the Boyfriend were once again going swimmingly. And once I started thinking about it, I started panicking.
Just the December before (around 1L first-semester finals), an aunt who was very dear to me and to my family passed away from stomach cancer. Several years before that one of my uncles was taken by lung cancer. Several years before that another aunt had died from uterine cancer. It’s heart-wrenching to see a family member deal with such immense pain and know that there is nothing you can do to stop it. It was heart-stopping to think that maybe I would put my family through that again.
So I didn’t tell my family about the lump initially. However, as I scheduled visits to first a clinic, then a specialist, I felt that it would be good to have my mom with me. If she couldn’t provide moral support, she could at least provide transportation and/or celebratory, non-cancer cupcakes. I didn’t want to bring the Boyfriend to the doctor’s office. I dunno. I guess there’s something comforting about having a support person in the doc’s office who has woman parts.
I scheduled a visit with the campus clinic, which confirmed that I did in fact have a Terrifying Boob Almond (though they did use a more scientific term for it). A week or two after that, I was forwarded to a specialist, who confirmed the TBA was not a liquid-filled cyst that could just be drained of the liquid, but rather a firm growth that needed to be biopsied to rule out cancer. A week after that, the specialist performed a core-needle biopsy, and tagged the site with a little chip to mark the biopsied site. (Unfortunately, I don’t set off metal detectors. Sucks, I know. That would have been a pretty cool story to tell.)
After about four to six weeks total from clinic visit to biopsy results, I had my answer about cancer: the TBA was benign. FU, TBA.
I don’t think I was too surprised by the results: I am after all under 30, eat somewhat healthily (except for the midnight runs – no pun intended – to Del Taco), and exercise regularly.
However, in the course of my research, I learned that there is a minority of women in my age group who weren’t as lucky as I was, who do get breast cancer. What’s even worse is that the mortality rates for these women are much higher: since they are so young and healthy, they never think they are at risk. This often results in the cancer being caught during the later stages of development, making it that much more difficult to treat.
I was lucky. All I learned after my month-long ordeal was that some women do get benign, boob almonds on a fairly regular basis. Some women, sadly, aren’t as lucky and learn that they are part of the small minority of women under 30 who do get cancer.
While there isn’t any cure for cancer yet and while we can only do so much in terms of prevention, we certainly can control the detection of these cancers. For women, that means touching your boobies. For men, that means encouraging your women to touch their boobies.
Hopefully, because of early detection and screening, that TBA will be MIA at your doctor’s office sooner rather than later.
For more information on younger women who are living with or who have survived breast cancer, please visit the Young Survivor’s Coalition website.
For an account of one law student’s ordeal with breast cancer, please visit The Merits of the Case blawg.
The consensus on the Interwebz seems to be that student loan debt is nearing a crisis, and could possibly be the next “bubble” to burst.
For 3Ls like me, and for recent grads (If you’ll recall, one Miami International University of Art and Design student channeled Beyonce in singing about her worries), we don’t need news reports and diagrams telling us that we are dangerously treading through the doodoo of debt with each step we take during law school.
But just in case the student loan debt news hasn’t gotten to you, here’s a nifty graphic from the Healthcare Administration that could put it in perspective.
In addition to the California Barzam in July, one of the things facing us 3Ls after graduation is that small slip of paper that stuck us with a ginormous amount of debt that we will probably be paying off for the next, oh, bajillion years or so.
True, we have more options now with income-based repayment, and loan forgiveness for those of us entering public service jobs, but that doesn’t make the debt monster any less scary, especially when the countdown clock to when the debt monster needs to feed starts the minute we flip our tassels.
Right now, I’m watching the Boyfriend – who took the July 2011 California Barzam – watch the calendar as he scours job postings for any available district attorney job in California. With each day that passes, that date when loan payments must start comes closer and closer, even though an actual, paying job is literally and figuratively miles and miles away.
There is some comfort, however, knowing that law students are not alone in their struggle with student debt. Apparently, a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Miami International University of Art and Design is almost as costly as a law school edumucation. Grad Franchesca Leigh Ramsey owed more than $100,000 in student loan debt by the time she finished her studies there.
But rather than blog about her fears and frustrations, she channeled Beyonce.
I would generally agree that dancing and singing to Ms. B does have cathartic value.
But where girls may run the world in The Fierce Ms. B’s version of it, debt will probably run mine and many other graduates’ post-grad world for the foreseeable future.
Yup. That means bills, bills, bills.
About The Chronicles of a BlawgirlThis blawg follows Julie Anne Ines as she continues her law school journey as a 3L in Fall 2011. Learn more about her here. Find/stalk her online profiles using the social toolbar at the bottom of your browser. Email her at ja_ines (at) msn (dot) com. Thank you for reading!
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