Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Breast Cancer Awareness: Self Breast Exam

I am 36...It Can't Be Cancer...Right?
I wasn't due for an annual doctors visit or a OB-Gyn appointment. I felt the lump underneath my left breast while I was doing a self-exam.

On one day, no lump and the next day a lump...lump....well, so it seemed. Little did I know, I had a very aggressive tumor that was growing inside of me.  I thought maybe it was there the whole time. I had to be sitting up to feel the lump. What should I do? Who should I call? I am healthy and I am only 36 years old. It can't be cancer. Right?

Doing a self-exam is simple and early detection is key. Do it laying down, sitting up, in the shower, when you don't have your period, and when you do have your period. If you are not sure how to do a self exam of your breast, your doctor should be doing one on you at your OB-Gyn visit. Ask your doctor to give you literature and show you how to do the self-exam. If you are not comfortable with your doctor to do this or haven't had an exam. Stop! Get a doctor you are comfortable with and ask everything. Read as much as you can on the subject of exam and breast cancer. No question is stupid. Awareness is what could save your life.

What to Do?  Who Do I Call?
Each day, I felt it for a month, I was not sure what to do. I am 36 years old, it must be a cyst. It is the holidays, I do not have time for this. It can't be breast cancer. Right? My kids are 14 and 12, and I am working full-time. And, did I mention I do not have time for this. I was one to wait for the last possible moment to go to the doctors. It must be really bad, if not I do not have time for this.

I had my husband feel it to see if he remembered it feeling this way. Was I just imaging this, maybe my breast always felt like this way. I wanted to talk to my sisters and to my friends. But, it was too scary to say out loud. I wanted to ask them what doctor should I see for this? What do I say to the doctor? Well, what do I say to the doctor and not sound foolish. I am only 36 years old and never had a mammogram. Don't you supposed to wait until you're at least 40 to get a mammogram.

It was November was a Monday...three days after Thanksgiving...In a parking a department store...I decided to call my primary care doctor and say I wasn't feeling well. And, so did the journey begin.

One day later sent for my first mammogram and two day later visiting a surgeon who confirm it was cancer one day before my 37th birthday.

A Tribute to My Sister Joanne

She has walked and participated three times, in my honor, in a 3-day Walk for Breast Cancer Awareness. She has participated as a walker, fund-raiser, and a cheerleader for her team from work. Joanne had helped me so much during my diagnoses and treatment. She called the American Cancer Society and got all the free literature about all the aspects of what I was going through and what I was about to go through.

When it came time for treatment and face the lost of hair. We went down to the American Cancer Society to get help to look for a wig. So, the American Cancer Society is a major resource with many free materials and support. If your feeling overwhelmed to call yourself for the information to be mailed to you or find material on-line, than ask someone for help. You will find every one around offering help after being diagnosed. People want to help and feel helpless during this time while they watch their family member or friend go through this journey. Do not do it alone.
Thank you, to my sister for all her support during this time and all she has done since to support awareness. Love you so much.

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