This is a story about two friends, ladies - one year apart in age, same professions, same passions. Both experienced life-changing events around the same time. I will warn you, this was emotional for me to write and it may, or may not, be the same to read.
2020 started with a bang on my end - I was in the ER on two separate occasions within two weeks with a separate biopsy for breast cancer sprinkled somewhere in between. Rough.
Just about six weeks later, a great friend of mine calls with the panic that she is going for imaging on one of her breasts. I told her I was happy that her MD pushed for that appointment and that whatever the results, there are steps to take.
Both of us experienced this:
Ultrasound: with “probably nothing cancerous but there is something there, in your duct.” Mammogram: “nothing there.” Mind you per the American Cancer Society 1 out of 5 mammograms MISS breast cancers & are not accurate for the 35 and under population.
Initial biopsies: “doesn’t look suspicious but we should remove it anyway.”
1 week post-lumpectomy:
My call “As I expected, the tumor was benign and so you are good to go.” Sigh...breathe.
Her call was the complete opposite. Now she is in chemo with a mastectomy on the way. So at least they caught it? A 30-something years old with Stage 1, Grade 3, yet aggressive type of breast cancer that is.
Now, why do I write about this? Part of it is persistence and for you to be your biggest advocate. You know your body and when something is not right do your research and get help. Now, I say this with some hesitation because it is easy to go down the rabbit hole and get lost in Dr. Google’s world. Yes, I am speaking out of both sides of my mouth. Be smart.
My life-changing event was not this benign tumor removal, second round BTW, but was on the other aspect of women’s health and that is fertility. Another blog, another day.
In some of our downtime we talked about how many times we were told “it’s probably nothing, we see this all the time…” That was true for me, but why the build up? Especially when someone experiences the contrary?
My point is women’s health is improving but not at the rate that it needs to. Breast cancer in young women is increasing! Why? No one knows. But what can be scary are the brush off phrases “like it’s probably nothing” or the high false-negatives of mammograms (generally our first step to diagnosing). Do your research, take care of yourself, and reach out for help if you need it.