Hi. I am a 43 year old woman with very few health problems up till now. I have had 3 children and breast fed all three. The last time I breast fed my daughter was about 1 1/2 years ago.
About 2 months ago, I noticed a number of swollen lymph nodes that became increasingly painful. These lymph nodes were located on the left side of my body only - my armpit, partway down my arm towards my elbow, the collarbone area, and right under the areola of my breast. I believe that some of the lymph nodes in my groin might also be enlarged as well. After a couple of weeks, they didnt go away, so I went to my doctor. She found another enlarged lymph node on the right side. She did some blood work and kept asking me if I injured my left side somehow. I hadn't or at least didn't remember any injury. The only thing I could think of was that I carry my (heavy) toddler on my left side and I do struggle lifting her. Beyond that, I couldnt think of anything else. The blood work all came back within the normal range...but meanwhile, as the weeks passed, the pain of the lymph nodes would seem to flare up and then subside a bit only to flare up again. During the time (the last 2 months), I was feel extremely tired and seemed to catch a new cold every week practically. I knew my immune system was run down but I put that down to some personal stress I was going through. A few days ago, I had "sinus cold-like" symptoms, followed by flu like symptoms (which I still have) - sweats/fevers, chills - on again, off again. Last week, I went back to the doctors and she is now referring me to a surgeon. She hasn't ordered any more tests and I wont likely get in to see the surgeon for at least a few weeks.
Today however, the pain in my lymph nodes was almost getting too much to take. On top of this, I discovered today that the lump behind my areola had increased to the size of a ping-pong ball and was very painful as well. I was feeling my absolute worst when I discovered the much larger lump in my breast. As far as i know, there isn't any family history of breast cancer and the only cancer I know of was my father, who battled benign brain tumors (at first) which were operated on twice and on the third time, the tumors had become cancerous. This enlarged breast lump has me worried, it seemed to get bigger very quickly. The pain is also very uncomfortable. I'm not sure if it is okay to use heat / cold on the enlarged lymph nodes to try and find comfort. I have heard that it is not necessarily a good thing to "stimulate" lymph fluids but perhaps that is only an old wife's tale. My doctor isnt telling me very much and says that she doubts that its anything serious but when you have several painful lumps including a large one in your breast - its hard not to worry or be scared.
I would appreciate any advice you could give. Are they any tests in particular I should be asking my doctor for? Is waiting a few weeks to see a surgeon wise when the pain is so bad? To me, it seems like it might be.
Thanks in advance.
Scared D. Cat
PS - Dumb questions time: I have been under an very large amount of stress the last two years. Can stress load affect lymph nodes?