October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and part of awareness is sharing knowledge and understanding to help others. Breast cancer isn’t pretty, and neither is prevention. It’s not always pink t-shirts, cute sayings and pink ribbons. Sometimes its anxious hearts, scars, bruising, fears and uncertainty. 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with Breast Cancer. Only 10% of those diagnosed will have a family history. Prevention is though what will save lives, and this is my story of prevention.
Every time I go to for my mammogram appointments I always feel like it’s a badge of honor of womanhood. My first mammogram was when I was 32 years old, after my primary doctor found a lump during a routine exam. I remember my first mammogram appointment, I met a woman in the waiting room-there we were all were dressed in pink robes, trying to read an old magazine not wanting to think about why we were in this room and waiting to find out what would show up on the screen. She was poised and beautiful and now looking back, an angel, because she could probably see the worry on my face and how close to tears I was as I was surrounded by women all at least 20-30 years older than me. She made jokes about us all being sisters in the big scheme and how men would never have their parts “smashed” for a test!
A year after my first lump was found my mother-in-law was diagnosed with breast cancer. I witnessed first-hand how this cancer can take away the feeling of womanhood and leave someone hurt and confused. My mother-in-law is a fighter through and through and an inspiration in so many ways and was the first person close to me to be diagnosed with this dreadful cancer. Today, I am beyond thankful to say this year she is cancer free for 5 years!
In late March of this year I found a lump that fell right on my rib underneath my left breast. Oddly enough I didn’t worry because from my early thirties, I have had more than my fair share of mammograms and ultrasounds due to fibrocystic breasts. When I spoke to my doctor about it I he assured me it was “probably nothing” but to go ahead and send me back to the specialists for review.
I had my mammogram and an ultrasound done and thought everything was normal until two doctors reappeared in the room with the ultrasound tech and explained that there was “something” they had seen on the right breast instead and felt a closer look would be necessary and that I would need to be scheduled for a biopsy. To their surprise however I was the one at ease with this and reassured them that I was happy because I was thankful for prevention after all these years I knew I was truly being taken care of and thanked them.
A week before my niece’s 2nd birthday party in Alabama I went back to the specialists and had a core needle biopsy performed. Thankfully, I learned 3 days later the area was completely benign, but I am forever thankful for the prevention. Thankfully today it wasn’t me. But that doesn’t mean it won’t be in the future. Don’t skip your regular mammograms, do self-breast exams every month. Take these preventative measures and be informed. I am what prevention looks like.