Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Galactocele -- The Continuing Saga

I appreciated reading any (albeit few) first-hand accounts when I was searching for information online regarding galactoceles.  So, while our almost-15-month-old is sleeping I'll get a few things typed up.
Part of the information below is in response to one reader's comment on the original "What is a galactocele?" post. I was given the option of having the entire milk duct removed but since I'm still nursing, the surgeon recommended waiting until I had weaned first. When I was told that, I was very torn. On one hand, how in the world would I quit breastfeeding, knowing that as I cut back on milk this huge lump in my breast would get larger and more painful? On the other hand, if I kept breastfeeding, how would I ever get rid of it?

For the record, this is my fourth child and the previous 3 were nursed 13 months, 23 months, and 27 months so I wasn't ready to stop nursing unless I really had to. The lack of information on this topic is very frustrating.
Earlier this year, I cried and had a lot of stress surrounding this mass so foreign to my body. It's still in my breast but it isn't something I worry about anymore.

Our son, now 15 months, is still nursing and I figure that in itself is likely keeping it more under control. I continue to take a Lecithin supplement (thought to decrease the stickiness of milk) and Boiron makes a homeopathic remedy called Phytolacca Decandra 30C (5 pellets per day).  I was taking a Biotin supplement as well but when I ran out I never did get around to purchasing more; no difference noted once I stopped.

For about 3+ months now I've been on a gluten-free diet which has become better to manage as I get used to it. Gluten acts in an inflammatory way in your body. I'm so used to watching what I eat as far as gluten goes that I'm apprehensive to add it back into my diet in case the galactocele gets larger again. I can say that I have not had the brief shooting pain in my breast that I had before eating gluten-free. Based on my experience, I can say without a shadow of a doubt that stress played (plays) a major role in galactoceles (as with many other breast cysts).

When I was looking for the elusive answers to my questions, I often felt sick and worried about what was going on that no one seemed to be able to help me with. Other times, I just prayed it would go away on its own. Since its still there, I can only assume God has other reasons for not removing it in MY timing.

About 2 months ago, it was still about the size of a golf ball but today it is slightly smaller than a ping-pong ball.  I really do feel that since I let go of the associated worry and accepted it as non-cancerous, that has played a big part in it staying on the small-side.  It was quite large and painful at the point when I had it drained (only to refill...augh!). I've read in a few places (and the surgeon my ob-gyn spoke with where we live also said) that surgery isn't always necessary. It is thought that most galactoceles will dissolve away and be reabsorbed into your body after you are done nursing. I'm not at that point yet so I'll have to wait to see how that plays out.

Most importantly, if you are dealing with a questionable breast lump, DON'T worry your self sick-er. My thoughts often centered around "what if it's cancer". Even if it had been, worrying only creates more stress in our lives and stress wreaks havoc on our immune and every other system. Simpler said than done sometimes but I know the stress I felt only made it worse.

These days, I feel for a palpable size once in awhile but not constantly. In fact, even sitting to write up this note had me palpating the galactocele for the first time in several weeks. I look at this as a time-thing. The only reason mine shrank quickly after refilling (post-aspiration) was because I became so dehydrated from the flu . That was the perfect (well, aside from endless bathroom visits) jumping point to getting it under more manageable control again. Not that anyone wants to catch the flu, but I was never so thankful for an illness!

Looking back, it took a couple months to get to the point where I could accept that it is slow-going but still heading in a positive direction.  Three months beyond that, I feel that I'm eating better, have less stress, and the galactocele that I still have is a non-priority in my thoughts.