Awareness…

I want to talk a little bit about my experience… I had my first mammogram at 39… I have very dense breasts…. If you’ve been told you have dense breasts…. it’s not a reason to be concerned, but it means that if you have something that is in there hiding, it may not show up on Mammogram… That’s the scary part…

In a book that I’m reading…

FACT:

On average it takes 100 days or more for a cancer cell to double in size. It takes about 10 years for cells to divide to a size that can be actually felt. The EVERYTHING Health Guide to Living With Breast Cancer

That means… in my opinion…. when I went in April, what I felt…. was not a cyst. It was just not detectable on mammogram OR ultrasound… but it was most likely there…

This week when I went to my oncologist… he told me… if I’d have come and it was 1 cm… I probably would not even need chemotherapy, I’d take tamoxifen and I’d have a lumpectomy most likely and be on my way… That was a real blow to me… that means if I’d have been more aware… and I’d have said… hey, but I feel something, can we pursue this further… Maybe, they’d have caught it.

Fast forward to November… what I have going on… I honestly don’t know how I didn’t see it… because I was busy, that’s what I keep telling myself… Looking down on my breast, it doesn’t look different.. its when you’re looking at it straight on… which is why I noticed in the mirror… Which is why I guess they tell you EVERY MONTH, inspect your breasts IN FRONT OF A MIRROR…. I didn’t pay attention. They told me I was fine… I believed it… who wouldn’t WANT to believe it…

Now it’s SO big… I don’t know ultimately if their fact is truly a fact… because what I had in April is nowhere near like what I have now and it seems to be a ton bigger…. although it probably was more like 175 days… so maybe? Whatever…. that is scary! Now because of the size, I have to have chemo, I have to have a mastectomy… and most likely radiation… and I have to be on Tamoxifen for 10 years at least…

I’ve known a lot of people who’ve gone for their mammograms… and HECK YES!!!! If I’m creating awareness… at least through what I am going through… people are taking it seriously and getting checked… Another photog friend was called back after her mammo… and she was scared to death… luckily, they told her it was only a vein… I told her, to be her own advocate and keep feeling those breasts and ask them to re-check her in a few-6 months… Doctors are going to hate me… lol But, it’s serious… and if it can’t be detected on mammogram…. and that’s our gauge? We HAVE to be our own advocates… We know our bodies… we should speak for our own health.

So, when I went this past month…. My mammogram BARELY detected this LARGE tumor.. it’s 4cm and probably bigger by now… it’s had 30 more days to brew…. it’s visible outside the skin now… The ultrasound… showed a 1 cm something or other…. but it was because of how my breast is presenting that they really took this seriously…. The MRI was ultimately what showed the true size of the tumor…. and remember… with LOBULAR cancer… which I have both Invasive Lobular and Invasive Ductal… The lobular spreads like tentacles, it was compared to crabgrass… it spreads and weaves it’s way in there…. THAT cannot be detected on mammogram…. With all of the science and technology… there has to be a way to detect these things… before it gets to the point that it HAS to be treated with chemo…

Let me talk about my aunt Patty for a minute… she was a good girl, she went ON TIME for her yearly mammogram (unlike my Mom and my other aunt who’ve put theirs off for 6 additional months… tsk, tsk…. ;)… so she went for her mammogram and they saw a blip on the radar… she is post menopausal… so they took it seriously…. they couldn’t even see it on the ultrasound… they had to look and look and look and finally found it…. It was found… It was stage 0, but… she opted to have the breasts both removed.. and reconstructed, she did not need chemo and was able to reconstruct right away…. If you have to have cancer… that’s ideal… but because of the lobular, there’s a much higher incidence that it can come back in the other breast…. so she opted to have both removed… which was very smart. Ironically, this past summer…. we were there in Wisconsin and she showed me her prized jewels…. they look so NICE!!!! If at the end of all of this… I come out with a tummy tuck and a new set, I’ll be thrilled…. but with all I’m going through there’s a large chance my body will reject… let’s pray NOT!!!!

My point is… don’t put off your mammograms…. and if YOU feel something… don’t accept it’s “just a cyst” like I did….. if it has been there, potentially 10 years to reach this size??? I’m not sure that I believe that… but it’s been there longer than I realized… Their point in that is… we think it’s critical… get this thing out of me NOW!!! But, it’s really not that big of a crisis… you have time to make informed decisions…. I’ve been very much like… “c’mon… let’s get this moving… this thing is changing constantly” I’ve been documenting it and someday maybe I’ll be brave enough to put my boobs out there for all to see…. but this is a blog and children can see it…. so I don’t want to do that… plus, I don’t know who’s reading… BUT,  I think it would be very helpful and would help create awareness…. so maybe someday I will….

If one person reads this… just one person….. and her breasts are saved…. because of this awareness, everything I will go through is worth it…..

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3 thoughts on “Awareness…

  1. Because of you I did my first self check in a long time. I just always put it off. Cysts run in my family but have never been found cancerous. I needed a wake up call. Thank you Dawn and God Bless!

  2. I had a cyst at 36 which required a biopsy. I was lucky it was benign, but I had follow ups every 6 months for the next three years. I am stickler for my mammograms and go yearly since then. I wish the best for you and great job getting the message out to all the ladies!!!

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