October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Hands cupping a pink breast cancer ribbon.

Early Detection of Breast Cancer is Key

Don't put off your mammograms

I know going for your annual mammogram is not top on your list of things you want to do but don’t put it off!  Have you gone yet in 2021?  If not, stop reading this, pick up a phone and make your appointment today!  Early detection is very important, the sooner it is found the easier it is to treat (in most cases).

Do Not Rely only on technology

A little bit about my story (OK, maybe a lot).  I was diagnosed with breast cancer back in 2015 at the age of 43.  Because I was “high risk” (my mother passed away from breast cancer when she was only 37) I was not only getting an annual mammogram and ultrasound, I was also getting breast MRIs every 6 months.  On two occasions there was “something unusual” found and each time I underwent a biopsy, but both times they were benign.  

About 4 months after my last MRI, I noticed some tenderness in the side of my right breast (not in the breast where the biopsies had been done).  On a self-exam, I felt “something” that was about the size of a pencil eraser.  I immediately called my breast doctor and got in for an exam.  She agreed that we need to look into this further and scheduled me for an ultrasound. Again, “not liking” what they were seeing, I was scheduled for a biopsy.  

When I arrived for the biopsy the person who was going to do the procedure was hesitant, stating that she felt it was just some swollen lymph nodes and maybe the biopsy was not needed and we should just “watch the area”.   Well, I was there, I was mentally prepared to undergo an unpleasant procedure so I insisted that it be done.  My gut was telling me not to just “wait and see”.

I can’t state this strongly enough, always follow your gut when it comes to your health!  I had the procedure and found out just days later that it was indeed breast cancer!  Breast cancer that I had found, not machines, but by doing a self-exam and trusting my instinct.  We all know our annual mammograms are important, but please be certain to do a monthly self-exam as well!

Always Ask Questions...Don't Assume When it Comes to your Health

So just a bit more on my story…  When I met with my breast doctor I asked her if she reviewed my last MRI which was 4 months prior to this finding.  She stated that because the two biopsies were done in the other breast, the insurance company only covered a unilateral MRI at my last visit.  They NEVER imaged the breast that ended up positive for cancer.  I had no idea they were not doing both, I assumed they would always do both, why not, I was there, my breasts were both in the imaging “cups” (that’s a story for another day) yet they cut 15 minutes off of the procedure by only imaging one side.  ASK questions for any medical procedure and advocate for yourself.  Unfortunately, the insurance companies are most concerned about saving money.

Only reason to put off your mammogram

I am giving you one reason why you can put off your mammogram for a few weeks.  If you have recently received your COVID vaccine, they are saying you should wait 4 – 6 weeks before going for your mammogram.  The vaccine has been known to cause lymph nodes in the breast area to swell.

This is in no way to be considered medical advice.  I just hope by telling my story it helps someone else.

And if you do find something that needs attention, don’t take a “wait and see” attitude.  Take care of it now!  And if you are healthy BEFORE you NEED to be healthy you’ll have a better chance of a speedy recovery.

Since October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the color of the awareness ribbon is pink…I will wear pink during every class I teach for the entire month…call me out if you see me and I don’t have pink on!   

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