I have had a lot of people ask me what transpired to me finding out I had cancer.
I’ve been asked if it was from a mammogram?
Did I experience any symptoms?
Did I find the lump myself?
So, I thought since I have shared the day with you about how I got the call about having cancer. I also thought it was important to share what led to my cancer diagnosis on November 13, 2018.
First of all, according to the American Cancer Society, a woman living in the US has a 12.4%, or a 1-in-8 lifetime risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer.
I have an aunt who was diagnosed with breast cancer in her 30’s thus I started getting mammograms when I was 37. I am embarrassed to admit I seldom have done a self-exam, maybe 10 times in my lifetime.
In addition, according to the American Cancer Society they no longer even recommend that all women perform monthly breast self-exams. They want women to become familiar with both the appearance and feel of their breast, and obviously report any changes properly to their physician.
I had a 3D mammogram in February of 2018, nothing showed up. I was considered low risk since I had so many mammograms come back with no problems.
So, you may think to yourself as I have thought to myself, what was it? How did I find the mass?
I can honestly say it was an inner voice, for me the Holy Spirit, that led me to finding this malignant mass.
I’ll take you back to that night. Fortunately, I am a sound sleeper. However, this particular night I couldn’t stay asleep, tossing and turning and just didn’t understand why I wasn’t able to fall back asleep. Instead, my mind wondered, a thought came into my mind about doing a self-exam. I couldn’t remember the last time I had done one and this inner voice convinced me to check for any lumps.
I would call this a “God moment.” A moment that a little voice was in my head and thankfully I was listening.
My self-exam quickly allowed me to feel what I would describe as a peanut M&M size lump on my right breast. I would describe the lump I found as a peanut sized M&M because that is my favorite candy.
In case you were wondering, they are still my favorite candy, but I rather eat them then feel one in my body!
Anyway, I already had an annual physical scheduled for myself two days later, so I turned all of the negative self-talk off in my mind and waited patiently the two days until my physical. After seeing my doctor, she agreed it was something to check into further and called in ultrasound imaging. I waited about four more days due to the weekend and went in for an ultrasound which they determined was a suspicious looking mass and my right lymph nodes were enlarged. That led to waiting three more days until I got in for my biopsies. The first was taken from the mass and the second from my lymph nodes. Within four days I received the results by phone and was told I had DCIS and Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. This is a fancy way of saying invasive breast cancer.
So, based on my experience I would definitely encourage women to do self-exams because I did get a mammogram every year and even a 3D in February of 2018 and I still was able to find the lump just 9 months later. I am so grateful because the recommendation came after so many mammograms were coming back negative that I didn’t need to be seen again until I was 45, which would have been another year because I just turned 44. I can’t help but ponder the what ifs.
Thankfully, I did a self-exam! I listened to my inner voice!
I will fall into the category of a survivor of breast cancer once I have completed all of my hormone therapy treatment, so within 5-10 years but there are still so many that don’t survive.
My advice, if I could be so bold to give some.
It’s your body, stay on top of your health and listen to your inner voice. Never take your health for granted, this includes your spiritual, mental and physical health. All three help us live a life in abundance.