So a news report came out that breast cancer, metastatic breast cancer occurrence among women 25-39 has risen in the last few years. The report continues “published today in the journal of the american medical association, researchers found the increase in women 25 to 39 years of age. and it's alarming because we don't know exactly why this is happening. it could be rising obesity rates, early menstrual periods, even environmental factors that we don't have pinned down” The report ends with “for most women, you should start getting mammograms around the age of 50. and in the meantime, you can keep up with your self-examinations, watch your weight, stop smoking, and of course, if you find anything that strays from the norm, that's when you check in with your doctor.” * Yes, this was a real news report, February 27, 2013.
So like the good patients we are, we hang on doctors’ words, and if you hear a “you’re ok, I don’t think we need any more tests” we usually smile, shake the doctor’s hand, and sigh a huge sigh of relief knowing the bullet just passed us by. We generally accept that it’s all good, and are more than glad too. Well my friends, not this time. I feel personally responsible to let everyone know that my tumor sat on my chest wall, buried deep under tissue and it was only by the grace the God that the tissue was irritated and much like the pea under the mattress I was able to feel something. I never felt my tumor, it was impossible.
I had received, when I just turned 40, my first order to get a mammogram. I detested the idea of the process, so uncomfortable and exposing. I ignored the order that lay on the seat of my car, then made its way into the glove box, then into the trash. At 41 the tissue rose and my story started to write itself. I was uncomfortable and exposed much of the next year, over and over. I asked my surgeon how long he thought the cancer had been growing. He said, at least a year. Had I gotten the mammogram at 40, they probably would have seen something, ordered tests, etc. and I just might have not needed the chemotherapy or the radiation. But on the other hand, if that tissue hadn’t expanded to form a false lump, I might not have gone for that mammogram at 41, or 42, or 43. And well since doctors are saying not to go until you are 50, and I like to shake the hand and “know” nothing is wrong, I might not have gone until I was 50.
Let’s get practical, I might not have made it until 50. In one year my triple negative infiltrating ductual carcinoma grew 5 cm at least. In ten years????…..
Please know there is no recipe to getting breast cancer. Skinny people get it. Smokers get it. Non smokers get it. Obese people get it. Polluted areas have people that get it, clean air people get it. If it were this simple, we’d have a cure. I’ve always said that cancer does not discriminate. It sucks for everyone that gets it. But you can be proactive in your own heath care. You can insist that someone listen. Find a doctor you trust and one that listens to you, there are plenty of good ones out there. Be a partner in your own health. And when the bullet comes right at you, you can lift your wrists with wonderwoman’s bracelets and deflect them one by one. Knowledge is power, empower yourself!