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Breast Cancer Awareness Month Breast Cancer Awareness Month

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Unread 10-12-2004, 04:42 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 10-12-2004, 10:44 PM
Well said!!


Quite the saga!! I join you in our triumph over breast cancer -- and also in the not having the luxury of "it could never happen to *me*" club.

I was diagnosed with breast cancer four years ago last month. The biopsy took place while I was on the table having a very large, fast growing lump removed on Sept 14, 2000. Mastectomy and lymph node removal took place in the same surgery -- yes, I went in with two breasts and no difinitive answers and came out with one and an all too young breast cancer patient (I was 34 -- although I know now that there are all too many women who are stricken much younger). After another mammogram of my remaining breast, it was removed in a second surgery Oct 12, 2000.

My story of breast cancer began with the hope of starting a family with my new husband. Married two years, and hearing "keep trying, those early miscarriages happen to lots of women" SIX times in two years, the small, painful spot, not even a lump really, was at first written off by my obgyn as a clogged duct from my last miscarriage. It grew to egg sized in less than a month!! I called the dr's office, explaining the growth, and was told to, yes, come in and an appt was scheduled the next day.

I remember all too well the whirlwind feeling the day I went in to the appt. It was a Tuesday. I went from her office, not really admitting to myself how white her (my dr's) face had gotten and how quiet both she and the nurse became, right to get my first mammogram.

Back to the dr's office Wednesday morning. I don't really remember hearing the word cancer, but know it must have been spoken. No answers, just would be best to get it looked at with the possibility of cancer somewhere in there. She brought in a couple other dr's, specialists, to discuss my options. Needle biopsy was NOT an option due to the location. The lump was large and had no defined break from my chest wall, it would have to come out one way or the other.

From there I carried my xrays and file to the surgeon...and then on to the plastic surgeon -- it was best to repair during surgery for the best result. Surgery was scheduled that Friday. I know now they all knew what the results would be...but in my cloud, I really thought still not me.

Four years later, in hindsight, I know how much denial I was in those first days. I also know what a really strong person I am!! Breast cancer, bilateral mastectomy, chemo, reconstruction. I'd left it all behind me, now hadn't I? Well, I found out this year that lightning does strike twice for some -- luckily this time all was contained in one ovary.

Hormones. The same ones that surged with each short pregnancy causing miscarriages (I feel luckier than some, each miscarriage in the first two months) also most likely caused my breast cancer.

To you, Linda, a big cheer of Survivor!!! To that we can never say "not me"...

Linda said it well. Be aware of your body, pay attention to its signals and changes. Early detection *is* the best weapon. Although my treatment a little more extreme than Linda's, keep in mind I was 34 with virtually no history of breast cancer (or any cancer) in my family. I caught it in the first month -- I had been to the dr exactly four weeks earlier for a checkup with my obgyn following my last miscarriage. Everything was *fine* then. Early detection! What if I had waited, what if she had put me off, what if I had put her off. Luckily, I am here today to what if...

Unread 10-24-2005, 11:58 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?

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Unread 10-24-2005, 03:29 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 10-30-2005, 03:47 PM
Breast Cancer and HRT

Just finished reading your experience with cancer detection on your mammogram.

I turned 50 this year and have had yearly mammograms done since my 45th B-day.

I too got a call to come in for further pictures. Didn't think too much about it. Two days later got the call to schedule an appointment with a surgeon for a biopsy. My pictures showed several microcalcifications in the right breast. I was shown last years mammogram and it was an obvious difference that I could see right away.

Stereotactile biopsy was done. DCIS and invasive cancer were shown. Lumpectomy and was done. Nodes were clear. Pathology came back stage I, estrogen and progesterin positive. My oncologist (I fired the first one, we do have the power to do that!) suggested I have an Ocotype DX test done on my tumor. It rates the likelyhood of recurrence and helped with the decision regarding chemo. My results came back low risk and I (along with my Dr.'s blessing) decided chemo wouldn't benefit me. I have completed 4 days of 33 days of daily radiation therapy. I have also started my 5 years of arimidex, instead of tamoxiphen, because I am in menopause since my hysterectomy 2 years ago. This has all taken place in the last 6 weeks. I've been very lucky that my appointments have been scheduled quickly.

I was on 5mg of estrogen with no problems before my cancer diagnosis. Because of my estrogen positive cancer I stopped cold turkey. I am not having many symptoms, some night sweats and trouble staying asleep but figure that probably is stress related right now.

My oncologist suggested (not recommended) that I stay away from other forms of treatment for menopause, ie. soy, etc. I'm curious to know if anyone else has gotten this advice. I am taking extra Vit. D and calcium because risk of osteoporosis is increased with arimidex.

My cancer was never palpable, even after we knew the location. So PLEASE get your mammograms!!!!

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