One beautiful, August Saturday, my dear friend and sister-in-law, Lauren, was getting married to the strapping young man of her dreams, Josh. We had all spent months planning and dreaming about this beautiful celebration of love and patience on the Lord's perfect timing and provision of a spouse. The day had gone off without a hitch - Lauren was stunning, Josh was nervous, and the church was decorated to the nines. It was a day that would go down in history.
Just 30 short minutes before the two were to become one, I decided to forgo the stark white strapless bra that stuck out of the top of my black strapless dress. As I was taking it off, I glanced down at my meager bosom to see a small, rounded bump just below the skin on my left breast. Immediately, I ran my fingers over the bump, all the while thinking, "Hmm? I've never noticed that before." This little guy felt hard, but movable, so I didn't worry too terribly about his presence. Quickly, I said to my onlooking husband, "Brian, I have a lump." Together, we reassured ourselves that this couldn't be a big deal - I'm only 25. Young women have lumpy breasts. Ladies my age have benign bumps removed all the time. I continued to rub my hand over the raised mound throughout the day and into the next.
"You need to let your doctor look at that," my husband guided. "I'm sure you're right, and it's absolutely nothing. But, just to be on the safe side..." I took his advice, and that of my sister, and I called my doctor on Monday morning. Still, I little concern about this occurence. After all, I'm 25. 25-year-olds don't have breast cancer.
I waited the four long days to see my doctor who curiously felt the lump and commented, "Yes, there is definitely something there. It's movable. My guess is that it is a fibroadenoma, but I would like to send you for an ultrasound just to be on the safe side."
Again, I waited in anticipation of the next appointment. All the while, I was thinking, "C'mon you guys. I'm so young. This can't be anything."
Finally, the time came for the ultrasound. I stripped off my top and my bra, and put on a scratchy white robe, and I sat in a waiting room with women my grandmother's age. My loving husband and concerned sister had accompanied me to this event, so I was not alone.
At last, the doctor called me in. I noticed that he quickly hung on one section of my breast. He drew my attention to the lump, and commented, "95% chance this is absolutely nothing but a fibroadenoma. But, there is this one little margin that seems to be a bit ambiguous. Most benign masses are perfectly precise on the edges, and this one has just a small section that seems a little jagged. Nothing to worry about, though. I feel certain this is a fibroadenoma. But, just to be on the safe side... I would like to see you back for a needle core biopsy."
By this time, I was really thinking, "Biopsy? Seriously? Did you forget that I'm 25? 25-year-olds don't have breast cancer."
Again, I visited the breast center. I laid on the table. They numbed my breast. And, in went the longest needle I've ever seen. "Oh good," the doctor commented. "The texture is sticky. That is a characteristic of a fibroadenoma. I'll call you with the results tomorrow, but don't worry. I'm just sure that this is nothing." Off I went on my merry little way. At last, I could rest easy.
I reported to school the next morning, no worries. No problem. RRRIINNG! My cell phone caught me off guard. I thought the doctor was going to call in the afernoon, and it was only 11:30.
"Mrs. XOXO?" I heard a man's voice say.
"Yes, this is Mrs. XOXO."
"I'm so sorry, but it is malignant. You have grade 3 invasive ductal carcinoma. Breast cancer. I'm in shock. My whole practice is in shock. We were just sure that this was a fibroadenoma. I knew there was a chance, but I just didn't think that this was going to be the case. Are you okay?" he stopped and asked.
"I'm fine. What do I need to do?" my body felt like it had survived a blizzard. I was numb. Immediately nauseous.
"You need to call a surgeon today. This is a very aggressive tumor, and you need to get it out quickly. Then, you need to come in for a mammogram so that we can check your breasts with another form of screening."
That's the moment when my life forever changed. I went from a person who was aware of breast cancer research to a person who needed breast cancer research.
Please, if you're able. Support the cause. You just never know how your help may come back to save your life.
And, be an advocate for your health. You are NEVER to young to start screenings. And, if you are young, insist on an ultrasound. If I'd left my cancer detection up to a mammogram, it would've shown that I was cancer free. They're just not reliable for young women.
Let's beat this!