Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Get Your Mammogram

In case you don’t know, October is breast cancer awareness month. There are a couple misconceptions about breast cancer that I used to share. Those misconceptions are that if you don’t have a family history of breast cancer and don’t have the BRCA gene, breast cancer isn’t really a risk that you have to worry about. That is SO wrong. I was SO wrong.

At the beginning of 2023, there was a lot going on in my life. I’d just started a new position at work, had started school to pursue a Master’s degree, was the primary support for one ailing family member, and our family was going through the Hospice experience with another. Also, I’d just been diagnosed with skin cancer and was waiting for treatment.

After a routine mammogram I was notified that there were “tissue density changes” when compared to my previous results. Having lost 120 pounds since my previous mammogram, I wasn’t worried. Why wouldn’t there be “tissue density changes”—and also, I have no family history, so I felt fairly confident this would go no further than any of my other re-screens so I scheduled the follow up.

Another mammogram, an ultrasound, and a guided-needle biopsy later I had my results: invasive lobular carcinoma.

Because I’m not one to widely share personal stuff, I didn’t really tell anyone about my diagnosis. Telling our kids was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I told several family members, close friends, and a few of my trusted coworkers.

I had surgery at the beginning of April to remove the mass and five lymph nodes and began radiation a few weeks later. At the end of May, I finished my treatments (aside from medications and injections I’ll be on for five years) and am currently in remission.

While I didn’t feel compelled to share at the time, I think this month is a good time to urge everyone to get a mammogram, do your breast self-exams, and follow up with your doctor. Cancer can come after any of us at any time. Early detection and treatment is an advantage that you shouldn’t give up simply because you’re too busy or because mammograms are inconvenient and uncomfortable. So if you haven’t already, schedule your annual mammogram today!

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