October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month. It's a time to celebrate survivors and join the fight against breast cancer. While I normally don't get too personal in this space, today I'm going to get real. I felt it was important to share my story with you to help raise awareness.
I've always been aware of these facts, having lost two of my husband's immediate family members to this awful disease. My maternal grandmother died of this as well, when my mom was in high school. I never thought that I would be diagnosed with it myself.
When I woke up on the morning of Christmas Eve last year, I had a foggy memory of waking up in the middle of the night and feeling a lump on my breast. I was going to wait to call my doctor until after the holiday, but something nagged me to at least leave a message if the office was closed. Coincidentally, not only was the office open, but they had a cancellation and I was able to get an appointment.
I went to the appointment thinking it was probably a cyst or something harmless. Annual mammograms have been part of my routine for the past 10 years and I had just had one in June. My doctor didn't appear to be concerned, but still ordered an ultrasound. It never crossed my mind that I might have cancer.
When I get the ultrasound back, it showed I had a tumor. The next step was a biopsy. I had a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach, but reminded myself that people everyday find benign tumors and that's what this was. Fortunately I was able to have a biopsy two days later. By the end of the week, the news was delivered that I had breast cancer.
I was reeling in shock - I eat healthy, have always worked out, and my only vices are a few glasses of wine. Was my life to end at a young age like my mother-in-law and sister-in-law? The thought of all the possible future events I was going to miss put me into action mode and I immediately made an appointment for the following Monday with the breast cancer surgeon.
It turns out that I have the best luck for having bad luck. My diagnosis was stage 1. I was meant to find that lump. I had surgery at the end of January, then eight weeks of radiation starting in March and finally, hormone therapy for the next five years. I am a survivor and cancer free!
Over the summer I had the BRCA1 & BRAC2 genetic mutation testing and to my relief, my results were negative. I'm just one of the unlucky 1 in 8 women who will be diagnosed with breast cancer.
And that's my point. Hiding from the possibility of having cancer will not make it go away. Schedule your annual mammogram, do your self breast exams monthly and most important of all, trust your gut if you think something is not quite right.
I appreciate you reading today!
Linking up with these fabulous bloggers.