Prior to my cancer diagnosis, I led a very holistic lifestyle, maintaining an organic, vegetarian diet and limiting my exposure to chemicals. I had recently lost 50 lbs. and was very active and healthy. With a family history of breast cancer and dense breast tissue, I have always been aware that, despite how healthy I may be, I have a higher risk of breast cancer. I was vigilant with regular self-exams. Knowing my breasts, what they feel like normally, helped to catch my cancer early.
Because of the COVID-19 shutdown, my annual mammogram appointment had been cancelled, but I kept up with the monthly self-exams. During one, I found a lump, and I immediately contacted my healthcare provider. Since I have dense breast tissue, I advocated not only to have a mammogram but also an ultrasound. The mammogram came back clear. The ultrasound showed cancer.
I am thankful that I was in tune with my body and acted quickly to get the healthcare that I needed. Advocating for myself when I knew something was wrong was lifesaving. The cancer was found at Stage I/II, and while I opted for a double mastectomy, I was able to avoid chemotherapy and radiation.
Had I not kept up with self-exams or settled with just a mammogram when I discovered the lump in my breast, I am not sure where I would be right now. I encourage others to be in tune with your body, to know what normal feels like, so that you can always notice a health change. Let your doctor know your family history and always speak up when you sense something is off or if you aren’t happy with the care you are getting.
- Discovered lump in breast during a self-exam