I often get asked how I found out I had breast cancer. Many people ask me if my doctor found it. Actually, I found the lump in my left breast. I’ve always self-examined myself so ladies, make sure you check yourself every month! This is the key to early detection.
I’ve always been known as my breast specialist to have “dense, fibrous breasts.” I found my first lump when I was a sophomore in college. I didn’t think too much of it and I called my doctor for him to look at it. I had it removed and it came back as a benign fibroadenoma. Since then, I always had my breasts checked by a specialist every year just to make sure there were no other lumps. In 2012, I noticed that I had another lump on the opposite side. Again, I had an ultrasound and I also had it removed. This one also came back as another benign fibroadenoma. In 2014, I found another lump. An ultrasound showed that this was just a cyst and my doctor watched it every six months and it didn’t seem to get bigger. This past year is when everything changed.
I saw my doctor in July 2015 for a normal check-up just to make sure the cyst I found the previous year wasn’t getting bigger. I had an ultrasound to make sure and everything looked good. He told me to continue to check myself, but not to worry since all of my lumps have been benign in the past.
So in September 2015, I happened to do my monthly self-exam and noticed a lump right where the underwire of my bra is on my left side. This lump was moveable like the others but it was a bit harder. This one was a bit tender and the only reason I thought this was because my bra is constantly pressing on it all day. Is this seriously another lump? I felt silly calling my doctor again since I just saw him a few months ago and now he must be getting annoyed! (Of course he would never get annoyed, but I was thinking that!) I waited for one cycle to go by because cysts can come and go based on your period and hormone levels. This one seemed to stay and it actually felt like it was getting a big bigger. I called my doctor and he got me in for the following week.
I was so nervous going to this appointment. I never was nervous in the past but for some reason, I knew this was different. I’m not sure why I knew this was different. I felt like there was a voice in my head telling me to get this checked as soon as possible.
My doctor felt the lump and I remember him saying, “Wow. This definitely wasn’t there in July.” He said that it resembled all of the other lumps that I’ve had, but he wanted me to get an ultrasound. So I walked over to the Radiology department for another ultrasound. I remember the tech saying, “I’m sure this one is nothing.” I wanted her to just tell me everything was okay but she had to grab the doctor to read the images. The doctor walked down, sat next to me and put her hand on my leg (which is NEVER a good sign looking back at this now). She asked me, “What are your plans after this?” What does she even mean “my plans?” I told her that my breast specialist wanted me to see him after the ultrasound and she goes, “Well, this will definitely need to be removed. You’ll have to talk to your doctor.”
I left the ultrasound room wondering, “What the hell is going on? This clearly must be something concerning if she won’t even tell me what it is.”
I walk back up to my doctor’s and he mentioned he was going to do a biopsy but he was 99% sure it was going to come back as another fibroadenoma. He mentioned that one side of the lump looks a little ridged (which from my own research, I knew this wasn’t a good sign.) He also told me that he could tell a lot from doing the actual biopsy and how the needle goes into the lump. After he did the biopsy, he told me again the needle went in like sand which is another good sign. He told me not to worry.
Two days go by and then I get a call from him telling me he never thought this would come back cancerous. And that’s how my journey started.
My piece of advice to everyone is PLEASE SELF-EXAMINE YOURSELF EVERY MONTH. This is the key to early detection. If I didn’t check myself when I did, I would be in a completely different situation. It is for your health. Let my story prove that cancer does not discriminate and it can happen to anyone at anytime.
If you found out you had breast cancer, how did you find out? Comment below and talk to me!