Did you know that breast cancer is about 30% of all new cancer cases each year? In the U.S, 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime... 1 in 8!! For minorities, this has a greater percentage and it is often attributed to lack of preventative care, proactivity in acknowledging symptoms and support for voiced concerns if not within prime age range for this illness.
I have been fortunate to have a doctor that takes ALL of my concerns seriously and does whatever is necessary to help me feel supported, heard and VALIDATED... not that parking, though!... lol, what's up with that?! They want an arm, leg and eyeball at the parking post!!! sorry, random rant, lol.
Back on topic...
Taking charge of your health is very important. I've written several posts about advocating for yourself in healthcare settings and how to properly "build your case" for additional care should you find you're in need of further evaluation. While all the information is hugely useful, the biggest piece to the puzzle is YOU. It's so important to acknowledge when your body feels different, you find a new bump or bruise or simply aren't't feeling your best. In July, I had my routine, yearly checkup and expressed to my doctor that I felt a lump in my breast. Although he felt they were normal, he went ahead and scheduled me for a mammogram; my FIRST mammogram. Its often recommended once you turn 40 but sadly that is often too late for many. Lesson: If you feel you need it, DO IT.
I will start off by saying it is the most awkward test/x-ray/ imaging I have ever experienced. Story time:
I was already nervous and didn't know what to expect. When I'm nervous or uncomfortable, I often joke to break the ice. This was an epic fail, lol. The nurse told me to get undressed and to place lighted stickers over my "targets" before she took the images of both breasts. " Oooh, I get a little razzle-dazzle?! I prefer tassels but these will do, he, he..." Crickets. Ha, Ha!!! She looked at me like "lady, I have to look at boobs all day...hush!"She gave me a blank stare and said "I'll be back in a few minutes." I kept thinking, "man, that was actually funny", lol. smh... You win some, you lose some I guess, lol.
The images came back and to my shock, needed further review. I immediately became afraid. Even though I knew I requested the test for a reason, you still assume you're just crazy and doing things simply to confirm that you're good. Reality is, sometimes you aren't good. Sometimes your gut feeling is right on the money.
Fast forward, I was scheduled for my next appointment with imaging and they were able to look further. Again, totally awkward exam, lol. I received two-part news: At this time, the area in question looks good and does not appear cancerous (yay!) but IT IS concerning enough that we need to see you every six months for a while (yikes...). Talk about being relieved, alarmed, happy, sad, validated and shook all at once. Truly a whole mix of emotions. While I know who is my source and know I am healed/ fine, the natural uncertainly definitely crept in. I wore the same plastered, confused smile all the way home. Sometimes, your findings aren't ideal BUT seeing about yourself is mandatory! This is your gentle nudge to check-in to check everything out.
As of today, I am awaiting my next exam and I expect GREAT news!The ladies are still sitting pretty and I'm more at peace because I chose not to avoid. Just ahead of #breastcancerawareness month (October), keep this in mind:
3 ways to reduce risk of cancer are
A) Limit alcohol
C) Maintain a healthy weight
Don't forget your self-examinations. A similar self-exam is also beneficial for the prostate!