Breast Cancer: Don’t Ignore Warnings

Maria had a rash on her breast. She thought it was just her new bra. She didn’t think much about it, but was scheduled for her annual GYN visit, so she mentioned it to the doctor. She hadn’t had her annual mammogram yet, so that was the first step. Turns out it was cancer, Stage 0 – but caught so early that. What the mammogram didn’t see (because she has dense breasts) was what showed up in the follow-up test: the other breast was also cancerous: Stage 1.

Maria chose the radical treatment of having both breasts removed and had reconstruction. But because the cancer was caught so early and hadn’t spread to lymph nodes or anywhere where else, Maria she had a lot of options. After surgery, she didn’t need radiation or chemotherapy, which meant she didn’t have to lose her hair.

While the choices, the surgery and the recovery haven’t been easy, Maria has been in the driver’s seat. She didn’t want to face breast cancer, but she took charge of her life and health. Because she did, she has been in control, not the cancer. It’s a good way to live – and Maria is likely to live a long and healthy life because she did.

If you missed my post with the warning signs from Susan G. Komen, here it is: http://ww5.komen.org/BreastCancer/WarningSigns.html

And by the way…Mammograms are X-rays, which means they have radiation, which means you need to be careful. Here’s something that you probably don’t know and that you probably won’t be told: you should be wearing a protective shield. While the technician is focusing on squishing your breast so she can take pictures at the right angle, she should also be conscious of the safety of your throat and especially your thyroid. Recently, a woman told me that she asked for the collar and it took the technician ten minutes to find it.

But do you really need one? A controversy about this erupted when Dr.Oz discussed this on his show. Afterward a technician logged onto the show’s community and complained about the firestorm that Dr. Ox started. The tech said that too often a woman had a get another mammogram because the thyroid shield got in the way.

It all goes back to the same thing: you need to be your own advocate for your life and your health. So do your research before your next mammogram. Decide what you want to do before you get there. I recently had a head x-ray for sinus and, if I hadn’t asked for the protective apron, I wouldn’t have gotten one.

Remember that others will always do what’s expedient or easiest or in their own interests. If you aren’t stepping up and taking the lead in your life, you may end up on a path you don’t want.