I work in the insurance world, so we are always urging folks to stay on top of their preventive care screenings. I knew when I turned 40, my mammogram would be covered by insurance, and that was the time to start annual screenings. It’s a relief and frightening thought all in one. A relief that truly, I feel protected that I went when I did and [cancer] was caught so early. Then frightening at the thought of what if I had waited?
I lived a healthy lifestyle. I didn’t notice any health changes before my stage 1 breast cancer diagnosis. Had I waited, in time, I would have most likely felt a lump or experienced some discomfort, but again, this is why staying on top of screenings is so important. I don’t have a family history or cause for concern. My cancer was identified during my first annual mammogram. My breast exam performed by my surgical oncologist came back normal, as did my genetic testing. If it weren’t for going in for my first mammogram on time, my story could be very different.
Early detection allowed me to have a very favorable prognosis, lower risk of recurrence, and although I needed to have a course of chemo and radiation, I needed less intense treatments of both. It wasn’t an easy road even with the less harsh regimen, so had my cancer been more advanced, there would have been additional challenges.
If something doesn’t seem right, be persistent. Be heard. Follow your gut. Be your own advocate.
You have to really be in tune with your own body, and if something continues to seem “off” you have to continue to press a doctor or doctors until you’re seen and heard. Most of the time, I’m sure it is just a minor situation, but in the event it’s not, we need to act quickly so proper treatment can occur.
- Asymptomatic, detected through mammogram.