with herbalist Susun Weed
I had a history of fibrocystic breasts in my early college years but I am over 40 now and have not been bothered much by painful lumps in my breasts for years. For the past month, however, my right breast has been tender. In the early morning when I first get up, I can feel a tension/soreness around the nipple area, as though there is a cyst affecting the nipple. Also, the nipple on the right breast will be hard/erect but not on the left breast. When I do a self-exam I don’t feel anything too suspicious. I do know that I am low in progesterone from a hormone test a couple months ago. Could that be the problem, and if so, what to do? Should I be concerned about cancer? Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom!!
Karen Joy’s response (apprentice to Susun Weed):
Your concern is understandable. And your awareness and care of your body is wonderful!! If hormonal both breasts would likely be affected, unless you have a long history of one side being much more strongly affected by hormonal changes.
You do not mention if you are or have nursed. If there is heat on the sore area, or even a higher temp in you overall, you may have a breast infection. If so, Echinacea angustifolia root tincture does wonders. In this case you would take a drop for every two pounds of body weight, in water, every hour for the first 24-48 hours, then go to every two hours, for a day or two, then every three, etc. You should notice at least a slight improvement in the first 10 hours. If not in day or two, infection is likely not it. If benefit though, continue for at least 7 days, tapering off as you go along.
If you do self exams regularly, then you can better assess if anything is out of the ordinary. If there is soreness in that nipple, and you are feeling for lumps often, this itself may be the cause of the nipple being harder than the other. When hard it can feel like a lump right behind it.
Yarrow flowering tops oil may help relieve sore, tender nipples. It may be irritating to skin so use sparingly.
Is there discharge coming from that one nipple that is not from the other? Is the skin scaly and itchy? If both yes, I would suggest consulting with someone. Note that discharge can be normal and healthy and can be found in one breast more than another, so is not in itself cause for alarm. And itchiness can come from simply a skin irritation.
At any time, we all can consider the possibility of cancer, even if nothing of note is out of the ordinary. When it comes to unusual, for the individual, changes in breast tissue, there is always reason to be more alert, know of the possibility it can be a sign of cancer, as well as know that more often it is not.
Know too that there are some that suggest those of us with a history of fibrocystic breasts are less likely to have cancer during their reproductive years! There is no evidence I know of linking it to increased risk. Even though you have not had it much lately, if the feeling is similar, it may simply be the same fibrocysts now. I assume by the time of the printing of this question and answer you will know more as well.
If it is cancer and is to the point of a noticeable lump, raising your nipple, it needs to be dealt with right away. If it is not, then fear and invasive treatments and tests would only irritate your breast health… though tests that relieve your existing fear will benefit you as well. Unfortunately I can not answer if it is or not cancer. Many of us come to this crossroads where we need to go within and make choices weighing all the possibilities and potential harm, in either direction.
How do you feel? What action do you feel most drawn to, before thoughts or fears of the consequence (chemical sensitivity at an exam or risk of missing a cancer)? Do you want to see someone in person, to feel it themselves or use mammogram or thermagram to check inside, to help you decide what to do next? Do you want to monitor your breasts daily, using gentle massage with herbal oils, a notebook to record thoughts, feelings, images, sensations, changes, etc.? Do you want to do both?
This place inside you is what I trust most to make the decision, knowing that it is not so much the outcome, but the moment to moment of life that is most valuable, with of course the desired outcome in mind.
Do you need help with breast massage or herbal oils to benefit breast health? Then read these excerpts from Breast Cancer? Breast Health! by Susun Weed:
Let us know if we can help further. This may be a journey, with more than one turn in the road.
(apprentice to Susun Weed)
photos: Wise Woman Spiral ©iStockphoto.com / Chuck Spidell | Reach Out ©2004 Wendy Wilkerson