Yesterday I shared my quest to find and share personal stories in order to put a face with this disease to create awareness. I cannot stress enough how important monthly self exams and yearly clinical exams are. Particularly important is the mammogram at forty and every year after. I know this came under some hot debate, but honestly, numbers don’t lie. It is when you catch breast cancer early when you have the highest chance of being a survivor. Mammograms do detect cancer early, and can help in the fight to survive. Ever since mammograms became a regular part of screening, deaths dropped dramatically. This is due to the early detection. It has been said that younger women’s breasts are too dense to actually see anything. While it makes it more difficult, it does not make it impossible. There are other methods as well that may work better in the younger patient such as ultrasound and or MRI. So if there is an abnormality, there is never an excuse for a doctor to not follow up. When I started having problems, which so far have been benign, I was merely twenty five years old. The tumors were so clear even I spotted them immediately upon seeing the films. That leads us to a myth that needs to be erased from our minds forever.
Important to Remember Bust This Myth-You Don’t Have to be Over Forty to Get Breast Cancer
Breast cancer does not just hit women over forty. Just because the regular mammogram screening begins typically at forty does not mean that someone under forty is not at risk for getting breast cancer. As a matter of fact, its that very myth that contributes to many deaths every year that could have been prevented. There are different types of breast cancer, and unfortunately women who get breast cancer at a young age, tend to have the very aggressive kind, IBC, which months, weeks even days count in diagnosing. Unfortunately people that young tend to think they are too young for breast cancer and put off going to the doctor. Then, when they get to the doctor, many doctors have the same mentality as well. Unfortunately the wait and see approach is deadly in cases like these. I am not trying to scare everyone out of their wits, but I am trying to raise awareness that you and only you are in charge of your body and your health. Any signs or symptoms can be easily biopsied these days, and if there is anything abnormal, you need to demand further evaluation. Arm yourself with knowledge and do not be intimidated when you are in the doctors ofiice. It is far better to have the abnormality checked and it comes back negative than to wait and see then come to find if you had only known sooner you would have saved your breast of your life.
This is my longtime friend Gina T.’s story of how breast cancer touched her life. This is word for word what she sent me via Facebook. Mark is her husband:
“Mark’s favorite aunt, Linda was diagnosed with breast cancer about 10 years ago, she had a radical mastectomy and reconstruction sergery and went through chemo and radiation, lost all her hair, etc. but kept her sence of humor the whole time. She would joke that after the reconstruction she had the “belly and tits of an 18 year old, but this 50 year old ass keeps following me around!” She went into remission and her hair grew back. She had been a world traveler and as long as I had known her she was single. She went back to traveling all over the globe but she met a really great man. They fell in love and moved in together. Then the cancer came back. She wasn’t so lucky this time, but she made sure she made the most of every second she had left. Up until the last few weeks of her life she was still taking trips, going to concerts and just loving life!”
I feel so awful for Linda that she did not survive this disease. I am however, so happy for her that she enjoyed every minute she had and continued to live life. What an inspiration she is to us all. How many days have we spilled coffee on our lap, locked our keys in the car and dropped a cell phone in the toilet or any other “bad luck” things and just moaned and curled up into bed trying to make the day go away. Along comes a woman who has this dreaded disease that no doubt ravaged her body and gave her pain you and I could only imagine and instead of curling up under the covers until it all went away, lived life to the fullest. An amazing inspiration to us all. God Bless Linda and to her family that no doubt has missed her to the fullest extent.
Thank you Gina for sharing your story and helping me keep it “personal”!