My diagnosis with breast cancer was a week long journey. A Fast paced week full of questions, doubts and concerns. The diagnosis was a long time coming. Long before my diagnosis I knew I had a lump in my breast. I knew that lump was growing. What I didn't know was how important it was to have a mammogram. I didn't know that early detection saves lives. I didn't know that a growing lump could mean a spreading cancer. I didn't know that young women can and do get breast cancer. I didn't know about breast cancer. I knew about heart disease. I was a care giver for sick and dying parents. I was a mom to two young daughters. I was a wife. I was an active church member. I was renovating a house. I was busy!! Being diagnosed with breast cancer was not in my plan. I didn't have the time to have breast cancer. So - I did what all wise young women do - I ignored it! Yep - I ignored it. I listened during the month of October as they promoted breast cancer awareness. I knew they were talking to me. I knew I needed a mammogram. I even thought about attending an event to try to win a free mammogram. If I won one - then I would go and get the thing and just play dumb about this lump growing.
Enter divine intervention. Intervention in the worst kind of way. I had already become and Internet Doctor. I studied Endocarditis and Renal Cancer and Hospise. I studied about all those things happening to my family. All of my knowledge could not save the lives of our parents that were suffering. In December, 2001, my dad went home to be with Jesus. That same weekend it was discovered that my mother-in-law was terminal. Her renal cancer had spread all over. I spoke these words to my mom "I don't know what God's preparing me for - but it's big". Over the course of the next few weeks I went about the business of losing a loved one. I strolled through Christmas in a fog. After the new year I turned my attention to more research about renal cancer and hospise on behalf of my mother-in-law. Toward the end of her fight in March, 2002, I typed in two words in my medical search engine. Breast Lump. It was time to face this reality and I did. Clearly I didn't like what I read. Reality was slapping me square in the face. I made an appointment to see my GYN but had to cancel it due to the death of my M-I-L.
One week later I was attending the funeral of my dear friends mom. She had lost her battle with cancer. I was really beginning to see the writing on the wall. I was not playing with a simple cold here. It was time to get serious. I confided in my sweet friend Traci. (My mammographer friend Traci) Yes - I know now just how dumb I was. She knew how serious this was and had me set up a mammogram with an immediate ultrasound. She was NOT dumb. She tried to hide her tears that Monday morning while she looked at those films. She could not tell me what she knew. It was not her place to do that. She just reassured me and tried to keep her composure. Another friend offered me a Coke. That was a sure give-a-way. I asked her if I NEEDED a coke. Then the ultrasound tech tried her best to have a poker face. She also told me what "other" things it could be. Reality was beginning to set it. Even before the films were read I had an appointment with a Surgeon. Once again, I was told of all of the things it could be. I was reminded that I was young, had no history, was not a smoker - was really not at a high risk. Remember that 80% are benign. Even after he took a large portion of my boobie as a biopsy - I was reminded that 80% are benign.
A few days later on March 25, 2002, Dr. F's words were "but unfortunately you are in that 20%". He flipped his pencil and looked at the chart. Even Dr. F didn't want to say - you have breast cancer. But I did have it. I had breast cancer. At 37 years old I had a 3.1 cm lump removed that was Invasive Ductal Carcinoma.
.................too busy to be diagnosed
"Big" had arrived. I was no longer too busy. I had a battle to win.
Please don't ever think you are too busy to be diagnosed. Early detection saves lives. Mammograms can save lives. Self-breast exams should be done each month. If you think you are being brushed off - get a second opinion. No matter your age - you can get a mammogram. Fight for your right.
I sure do love you guys!
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