The most common questions I am asked, is:
“How did you know?”
“What were the signs?”
“Did you find it yourself?”
This was back in 2014 (first breast cancer). For anyone with babies or toddlers in their house, know that time is in short supply to have uninterrupted adult conversation. My hubby and I often had our quality conversations in the shower at the end of the day when the kids were asleep.
“In June 2014 this shower turned from quality conversation to life saving.”
On this particular night, we were in our teeny-tiny shower and obviously because space was limited I was at a different angle (to showering alone) when it came to washing under my arms… I swept my soapy hand across my breast and into my armpit… “What was that”? I said, it STOPPED me in my tracks.
I said to my husband, “Oh my goodness, feel this.” (Just in case I was imagining it)… Nope, I was certain I just felt a big ass lump in my right boob. He felt it too… I was pretty calm; he on the other hand was quite directive, saying, “Right, you need to see Carl (our GP) tomorrow.” I said ok and didn’t think much of it. When we jumped into bed, he asked if I was worried, I wasn’t. I’d previously had swollen sweat glands/infection in my armpit on the same side so I just thought it would be a cyst or something. Even though this time it wasn’t in my arm pit, it was in my breast.
My husband’s mum sadly passed from Breast Cancer when he was seventeen years old, he was concerned more than I was. It was a decent size lump, once I had found it and knew it was there; there was no missing it. My mum, when I showed her, gasped, “Bec, that’s really big,” she said (she was worried).
So that is how I found my lump, it was random, it was by chance and thank God I found it… it was aggressive, had already infiltrated into my lymph nodes and if left any longer could have easily metastised elsewhere in my body. If that were the case, instead of having the opportunity to fight, I may have been handed my death sentence…
FEEL YOUR BOOBS
GET TO KNOW YOUR BOOBS (what’s normal for you – what’s not)?
DO A SELF EXAMINATION ONCE A MONTH…
It’s time girls… DO IT – tonight in the shower and then in front of the mirror.
Here’s a guide to self-examination. If you’re not sure, next time you’re at the GP just ask how to perform your own exam.
I’m being deadly serious… when we are young we are not offered routine testing. That’s ok – only if you are on top of things. And for woman who are old enough to have their mammograms… don’t put it off, do it, book that appointment. And let’s be realistic… they’re not that bad, I’ve had eight now and it hurts a little on my scar tissue, however, like most unpleasant things, one or two deep breaths and it’s done – PLUS if that’s not enough to convince you, my second breast cancer was found on Mammogram (and it was found super early).
As mentioned above, my second breast cancer was found differently to the first, I did not find a lump, because it was actually too small to be felt – even when my doctor knew there was cancer there (confirmed by biopsy) she could not (by physical exam) find it. Fortunately for me, somehow by miracle, my annual scans (mammogram and ultrasound) couldn’t have been timed more perfectly. Had my scans been earlier in the year, my new tumour would not have existed and I would currently be sitting here as a ticking time bomb.
I’ve had plenty of scares and biopsies at various times since diagnosis. I’ve had lumps found myself, suspicious areas found on MRI but not on Mammogram, and this time my abnormality was found on Mammogram and not Ultrasound. So let me say this… you will constantly hear conversations between woman about cancers being missed on certain tests and often people have an opinion on which test/scan is better than the other. I am case in point that all of the screening tests are effective and necessary to detect different types of abnormalities. For me, second time around, mine appeared as a calcification which can be completely normal in a lot of women, however, not in a thirty-four year old with a history of aggressive breast cancer and prior radiotherapy (which can also cause these calcifications). There was still a good chance that it may not be cancerous – though unfortunately, it was.
My point is this… being both breast aware and knowing your body by doing regular self exams as well as routine screening for those women old enough or have a prior or family history is equally important. AND if you are young and you find something suspicious, don’t allow yourself to be dismissed because you are ‘too young’ – there is no such thing as too young, if your intuition tells you that something is not right, don’t stop until you get peace of mind. Early detection saves lives – mine included.
Another note I might just add is this… Beyond the scans, you need a highly skilled Doctor to review the results. I am SOOOOOOOOOO fortunate for the radiologist that read my mammogram report on the 15th June 2018. The abnormality looked so small (albeit still a grade three tumour)… someone could easily have looked past this. There are women in one of my Australian online support groups that are now terminally ill because their cancer showed on their mammogram, yet the radiologist at the time did not see it, only for these women to be back at the Doctor, a year or two later to be told that not only do they have breast cancer but it’s also too late and they are diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer – this makes my heart sink.
Two years ago I started Blogtober with this post, this year I have eased in more gently, but nonetheless this serious and ‘take action’ provoking blog is absolutely necessary and it wouldn’t be Blogtober for Breast Cancer Awareness without it.
Feel those beautiful breasts of yours – do it for me, do it for your family, your children, your loved ones, your friends.
For more Blogtober posts, you can find them in the BLOGTOBER INDEX – HERE.
© Copyright 2018 becbraid