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Breast Cancer Awareness Month Breast Cancer Awareness Month

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Unread 10-12-2004, 04:34 PM
Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Dear (((Sisters))),

I had a mammogram today, just as if nothing had ever happened. Well, almost.

All my life I'd always been the healthiest person I knew. Like everything else about my body, my breasts never gave me a day of trouble... no lumps, no pains, nothing. Starting nine years ago at age 39, my DR had me get a mammogram every year. I remember being a little nervous the first time, fearing it would hurt (it didn't, not very much anyway), but *knowing* that it would be over in a matter of minutes and I could go on about my life, secure in the knowledge that, between that and the pap, I'd fulfilled my perfunctory obligation for the year, so I couldn't possibly be at risk. I had no family history of breast cancer, so no reason to worry -- right?

Fast forward to December 2003, almost two years after my hysterectomy. By then, I'd had eight perfectly clear mammograms. I practically slept through them. The ninth one was no exception... I joked with the technician, then when she finished, I got dressed and went shopping, not giving it another thought.

A few days later, I got a terse phone call from the breast center at the hospital, saying they needed me to come back in for "additional views" on one breast. That was followed by a letter, which said there was a suspicious looking area in one breast that needed further examination. I was also told that at this facility, about 15% of patients are called back for further studies, so it isn't such an uncommon thing; and that of that 15%, only about 15% go on to have a biopsy.

Well, guess what? I always did have a knack for beating the odds. The compression mammography they did confirmed the presence of a 1cm area with microcalcifications, and the configuration was sufficiently suspicious that they were recommending a biopsy. However, they reassured me that of those biopsied, about 80% or more turn out to be benign.

I had a stereotactic biopsy in January 2004. In February I was back in the hospital, having a lumpectomy. The pathology report showed four kinds of non-invasive cancer cells, including LCIS and low grade DCIS, and clear margins My surgeon called me his 'poster child for early detection'.

Since then, not a day goes by that I don't think about how lucky I was that it was detected when it was still very small and non-invasive. I'm getting stronger every day... but I will never again have the luxury of having that "it could never happen to me" feeling. I am always wondering if/when I'll get another one of those calls from the hospital, letting me know that something isn't quite right.

So, it was with a fair bit of trepidation that I showed up at the hospital today for my first followup mammogram since spring (I'm on an every 6 months schedule for the next 2 years). The radiologist was standing by, waiting to read the films and direct the technician to take additional views if anything looked the slightest bit suspicious.

When the radiologist said, "everything looks fine - no sign of anything suspicious there. See you in 6 months, OK?", I almost fainted with relief. And then I got dressed, and went shopping, just as I did that first time. The difference is, I don't take my life for granted anymore, and definitely don't have that carefree, 'ok, I've done my duty, now I don't have to think about this for another year' attitude. I've done my homework, educated myself about breast cancer detection and treatment, and taken responsibility for making sure I am doing what I need to do to stay healthy and (hopefully) cancer-free; and I'm prepared to deal with the eventuality that I do have a recurrence. And I'll be getting that next mammogram in six months, you can bet on it.

For information on breast cancer detection and treatment, check out the Breast Cancer section of our Resources directory:

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. My local Curves is having a raffle at the end of the month ... to enter, we have to present proof of having had a mammogram this year. They have several prizes... cute merchandise which would be fun to win. But the *real* prize is the possibility that cancers that, if allowed to grow, could be fatal, could possibly be detected early enough to remove them safely and easily before they present a serious threat to life and health. Early detection is still the best weapon we have against breast cancer, and I for one intend to wield that weapon well. Anyone care to join me?

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Unread 10-13-2004, 11:56 AM
Breast Cancer Awareness Month

(((Sisters))), I would like to share my story of why I will never miss another mammogram.

I had my first mammogram at age 35 at my doctor’s suggestion. He said it would be a good age to have a baseline mammogram done. I scheduled the appointment, had it done, and everything was fine. I had another one done three years later, also at his suggestion. He is very pro-mammogram having lost both his mother and mother-in-law to breast cancer. Again I scheduled and again everything was fine.

Two years later I was pregnant and used that as an excuse to miss having a mammogram. I also missed the next year, and the one after that. My reasoning? I have no family history of breast cancer and had no reason to think anything was wrong. Even though I was encouraged annually at my exams to have it done I kept putting it off.

I was having problems related to my periods and went to see a new doctor. The topic of mammograms came up and of course she recommended that I have one done. I scheduled it, had it done and didn’t give it another thought. Then the phone rang. It was the Center where my mammogram had been done. She was evasive but I knew something wasn’t right. They had me in the next day for additional views. After taking the additional views she had me wait in the room, saying she’d be back if the doctor wanted anything further. My heart was already racing and I felt sick to my stomach. I felt even sicker when she came back in and said the doctor wanted an ultrasound done.

I was ushered into another room and lay on the table while the technician performed the ultrasound. I watched the screen and could see the areas in question. I didn’t know what I was seeing, but it was easy to tell that what was there didn’t belong. When she finished she informed me that, as standard procedure, the doctor would be in to speak to me. I was terrified! As I lay there I kept chastising myself about missing so many mammograms. I wondered what was in my breast, and how long it had been there, undetected.

The doctor finally came in and almost instantly put my worried mind at ease. He said what they saw were cysts and no further treatment was needed. I was so relieved! However, that wasn’t good enough for my doctor and she insisted that I see a breast specialist to be absolutely certain that everything was okay. I made the appointment and again was relieved to hear that indeed the two areas in question were benign cysts and no treatment was necessary.

As scary as all of that is, one other scary fact is that neither I nor any of the many other doctors who have done breast exams on me before and after that mammogram have ever been able to feel those cysts even knowing exactly where they are! My point is, as important as doing self breast exams are, I would not know to this day about those cysts if not for the mammogram.

I consider myself lucky that it was nothing more than two cysts. I swore that I would never again miss another mammogram and I am proud to say I haven’t! We can make jokes about mammograms and put if off, not wanting to deal with the temporary discomfort of having it done. I’ll take the discomfort over the feeling that I had let myself and my family down by not having my mammograms done annually. That is one scare I never care to repeat!

Please, (((Sisters))), make the time for this very important aspect of your healthcare. Special thanks, (((Linda))), for sharing your important story with us!

Unread 10-18-2004, 05:48 PM
Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Hi, Surferbabe. I am so happy for you. You have been a real comfort for so many of us here in "the jungle", and I was so concerned about your health since your posting about your breast cancer. My mother and several of her sisters all had breast cancer, and my mother is now 7 years out in her remission. I had been so paranoid about taking the hormones since that time (which followed my TVH/BSO by one year and led me to try rediculously low dosages of estrogen), but now feel much more comfortable about the life choices I have made in continuing with the HRT. I just have to view everything through my "quality of life" lenses. I hope you continue to do well, and thank you again for your efforts on the part of all of your hystersisters. Love and hugs, Gal.
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Unread 10-19-2004, 03:49 PM
Breast Cancer Awareness Month

I am happy for you that everything was caught in time. You are such an inspiration to all of us on these boards always giving good advise. YOu are a strong lady! Lucy
Unread 10-22-2004, 06:39 AM
Breast Cancer Awareness Month

HI to all

Thank you for this important reminder. I was always told by my doctor that there is no need for a mammogram until age 40.

The more I read and learn, that might be too late for some women.

I am 37 and have not had a mammogram.

I am going to put aside my fears of the pain and the thinking that I am too young for one and I WILL schedule an appoinment for this today.

's to everything we go through as women.
Unread 10-26-2004, 05:39 PM
My Story

I thought that I would share my story also since this is a very important month in all womens lives.

I have always had my yearly mamo and this year was no expection. In the past I have had my mamo's yearly and for a period of time every 6 months to watch my cysts.

This year I went in April for my yearly GYN visit and then my yearly mamo. GYN felt nothing. But the mamo picked up something that was not right.

I received that frightful phone call from the hospital to come back in the next morning for more films to be taken. That afternoon the GYN office called and says that you need to see a surgeon and here is the date and time of your appointment.

What a wonderful surgeon they had sent me to. He had all of my past and present films and examined them all. Told me right there that he did not think that it was cancerous, but he wanted to do a Stertactic Breast Biopsy anyway.

Thank the Lord, everything came back benign and you can be sure that I will be back in there in April for my next year Mamo.

Please Ladies, make sure that you have your baseline early and then have your mamo's done every year.

Unread 10-24-2005, 11:53 AM
Breast Cancer Awareness Month


I'm so happy You are doing so well! Have there been any changes? Are there any updates you care to share?

Unread 10-24-2005, 03:31 PM
Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Hi I just went for another half-yearly diagnostic mammogram last Friday, and I'm happy to say it was ALL CLEAR It's still a nerve wracking experience for me... probably always will be now... but such a huge relief to hear that I'm good for another six months now. And, if the next one is clear, they'll put me back on a once a year schedule.

I was at Curves this morning, and we were chatting about this subject because it's once again Breast Cancer Awareness Month... I was shocked at how many of the ladies, most in their 40s and 50s, had either never had a mammogram or admitted they had the order for one at home but hadn't made the call to schedule it. Goodness... it's a half hour or so out of our lives, really not all that uncomfortable, insurance usually picks up most of the cost, and it can save lives. Why NOT do it? Because they're all thinking like I used to... "It'll never happen to me". Amazing how quickly one can go from "It'll never happen to me" to "it happened to me and it could happen to me again any time".

The lesson I've learned from all this is, I can't predict what the future holds for me, and I can't totally prevent bad things from happening... but I need to do as much as I can to increase my odds of staying healthy. I recently read an article that concluded that ladies diagnosed with DCIS who begin an exercise program involving at least a half hour of cardio exercise several times a week have half the recurrence rate of those who don't. That alone is incentive enough to keep me moving. I've improved my eating habits and worked hard to balance my hormones (bio-identical) along with taking a good mixture of vitamins and supplements as recommended by my DRs. I see them all regularly and don't shy away from any tests they might request. I get regular mammograms and DEXA scans. It's a responsibility we all have to take care of our bodies, so we can stay around a long, long time.

Unread 10-25-2005, 04:26 AM
Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Congratulations, Linda!!!! I'm so happy for you that the DIM is helping
with those clear mammograms.
I had a scare in April. My previous mammograms were clear, and I expected the same result this time. However, with my dense breasts,
they decided to include an ultra-sound. They found a complex cyst
vs. solid nodule on my left breast meaning they could not decide which was the correct diagnosis. My doctor sent me to a surgeon which terrified me. This surgeon ordered a core biopsy. After discussing this with the women's radiology clinic, I asked the surgeon to change the orders to needle aspiration first, and then the core biopsy if it is still needed. The end result was that is was a complex cyst that had hardened over time, and it was benign.
I also encourage yearly mammograms, and if you have dense breasts, request an ultra-sound. I will be having both yearly.
Unread 11-06-2005, 09:40 PM
Breast Cancer Awareness Month

What a great post!! This hits close to home because my mom had breast cancer &is in remission & my maternal grandmother passed away from breast cancer. I work as a medical assistant for a Gyn Dr. & can't tell you how many times I hear my patients say.... they won't ever get a mommo because it hurts, or that they haven't had one in years because of whatever reason. I am always trying to stress the importance of them. Sometimes people just don't relize how important something is until it affects their lives. Surferbabe I am so glad that you were able to catch your cancer early & that you are using this to educate others.

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