My series of events began when a mass was discovered on my uterus. Testing revealed that it was benign but, having a history with large masses on my uterus, the decision was made to perform a hysterectomy. With a widespread family history of breast cancer, I knew I was at risk and needed to be diligent about self-exams. That’s when I found the lump. I immediately called my gynecologist and was able to get an appointment for the next day. My doctor also felt the lump, as well as another one in the other breast, so he sent me for a mammogram. The results were inconclusive, but my doctor did not give up – he scheduled an MRI and then a bilateral needle biopsy. The results came back as Lobular Carcinoma in Situ (LCIS) – it wasn’t cancer (yet), but it did mean I had an increased risk of developing breast cancer.
I was referred to a surgeon, who wanted to investigate the lump further. The surgeon did a lumpectomy and those biopsy results came back showing Invasive Lobular Cancer, stage I. We decided on mastectomy for treatment, and during a pre-surgical procedure, the anesthesiologist nicked my lung. Thankfully, the surgery went well. But X-rays the next day showed that my lung was collapsing, and I spent three extra days in the hospital recovering. Upon release, I was told to follow up with a thoracic surgeon. I figured it was just standard procedure. However, during my consultation with the surgeon, he pointed out an area of concern in the X-rays. More testing was done, which revealed that I had stage II lung cancer.
I was lucky—a series of events led to successful treatment of not one but two cancers. I am lucky that I recognized a change in my normal, that my gynecologist saw the importance of continuous testing for the subtle symptom, and that my surgeon kept digging for answers. My doctors were proactive and involved in my treatment, which led to the discovery of a hidden cancer. My advice for others is to do self-exams and stay in tune with your body—you never know how it may contribute to early detection.
- no early symptoms; found a lump on breast during self-exam