After having a baby, I experienced a year of unexplained bleeding and ultimately advocated for myself to find a doctor who would perform a hysterectomy. Years later, when I started experiencing health changes such as heartburn, acid reflux, extreme fatigue, hot flashes, headaches, joint pain, and insomnia, I convinced myself that I was experiencing early menopause because of the hysterectomy. Blood work showed that everything was normal, and my doctor was not concerned.
I started taking over the counter Estroven for my symptoms. It helped, but about a year later, I came home from vacation and found a lump in my left breast. I waited about a week to call my doctor because I have dense breast tissue and sometimes get lumps and bumps due to hormones. I had my appointment, and my PCP confirmed the lump. My doctor still wasn’t concerned about my symptoms or the lump, but she ordered a follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) levels test to confirm I was in menopause. My blood work came back normal, and I waited for a mammogram and diagnostic ultrasound.
I saw a general surgeon before my mammogram/ultrasound, and he said he was 97% sure my lump was nothing to worry about. It seemed like the physicians weren’t concerned because of my age when they should have been concerned due to my symptoms.
When the general surgeon called me with the results (which I read the night before he called), he said they found “some cancer” and “we’ll get you better, kiddo.” I felt dismissed and devastated. After waiting three weeks to see an oncologist, I finally found out that my cancer was Stage 1. Because I didn’t wait when I found the lump and advocated for myself, my cancer was caught early.
For those reading my story, I urge you to do self-exams. Don’t second guess yourself. Don’t try to convince yourself that it’s nothing. If your doctors don’t listen the first time, advocate for yourself until someone listens. You know your body best and when things don’t feel “normal”, get checked out. I am extremely grateful that my breast cancer was caught early when my outcome was as best as it could possibly be. If I had waited and didn’t listen to my intuition, I don’t know where I would be right now.
- lump in breast found on self exam
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