Saturday, October 9, 2010

I Wish Somebody Had Told Me

There is a lot of discussion and disagreement on the recommended frequency of mammogram screening and the effectiveness of self exams.

This is what I know now and wish I knew then.

I never had my mammograms in the same place.

In addition to getting your mammogram, it is extremely important for the radiologist reviewing your current mammogram xrays to COMPARE them to your previous mammograms.  It is important for them to know what your "normal" looks like.  If something unusual FOR YOU is detected, further diagnostics can be recommended.  Didn't know that.  Never had them compared.

Regular screening is still the best way to find breast cancer early, before any symptoms and when treatment is usually most successful.  Even so, know your breasts.  Know what they usually feel like and look like.  Be aware that during your menstrual cycle, your breasts can feel more lumpy and tender, but don't hesitate, if you notice something different, notify your health care provider.  Be diligent about examining and looking at your breasts.

The kind of breast cancer I have, invasive lobular carcinoma, is not usually felt as a "lump" and is often not detected by a mammogram until the tumor is larger.  There are several new reports suggesting women with dense breasts have a higher risk of breast cancer.  It's not that having dense breasts leads to the cancer, its that the "masking" effect of fibrous breasts can result in cancer not being detected on a mammogram.

I was always looking for a lump.  That said, I was still the one that detected my breast cancer.

What I noticed a few months before I said anything is during my menstrual cycle, my left breast had an area that seemed harder than the rest of the breast.  It was not until I also noticed my nipple looked different, as if something was pulling on it from the inside, that I became concerned.

An inverted nipple can be a sign of breast cancer, unless you were born that way. Didn't know that.

I also experienced an itchy feeling in the area that I NOW KNOW is where my tumor was located.

An itchy breast or nipple can be a sign of breast cancer.  Didn't know that.

This is from the Susan G. Komen for the Cure website.  It's an interactive tool you can do on your computer.

Breast Self-Awareness (BSA) Interactive Tool

Women should be aware of how their breasts normally look and feel. Knowing what is normal for you may enable you to note changes in your breast in the time between your yearly mammogram and/or clinical breast exam.  Breast self-exam (BSE) is a tool that may help you become familiar with the way your breasts normally look and feel.  BSE involves looking at and feeling your breasts. Women who practice BSE should also be sure to get mammograms and clinical breast exams at the appropriate age. BSE should not be substituted for these screening tests. For more information on BSE and screening methods, visit Susan G. Komen for the Cure: Early Detection & Screening.
This tool developed in English, Spanish, Hindi and most recently Chinese, will help you learn and promote breast self-awareness. It will also teach you how to look and feel for any changes in your breasts. Use the links below to view this interactive instructional tool.
(To view the online BSA tool you need Macromedia Flash installed on your computer. Macromedia Flash is available for download free.)

Take a couple of minutes and do this BSA interactive tool.  Over your lifetime, your chances of being diagnosed with breast cancer is one in seven.  That's a 12% risk.

Early detection is the key.

Take care of your girls, know what your normal is.

The good news?

There is an 88% chance you WON'T get breast cancer over your lifetime.

Lucky me.

1 comment:

kim said...

After reading your blog tonight I noticed on the right side of my screen that it said Labels with a list of words beneath it and numbers next to it. I recognize the words and figure that it is words you have used in your blog and how many times. I found it interesting. Most of them had a 1 or 2 after them. These stood out: angels-7, Robin-8, Love me-9, personal growth-9, and hair-11. We all know how you felt about your hair. I want you to know that we all love you, the angels are watching and taking care of you, Robin is a great kid, and the personal growth you have shared with us has affected us in great ways.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...