October is nationally recognized as Domestic Violence Awareness month. It is also Breast Cancer Awareness month. I will spend much of my time in October speaking and working to bring awareness and action regarding domestic violence, personal development, entrepreneurship, etc. But, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on an issue and part of my life I rarely talk about.
I was taking a shower. My left breast felt uncomfortable and sore. I’d noticed a sharp pain in the same area once before, but I dismissed it as having bumped into something and possibly bruised myself. I didn’t see any bruising, but after a better examination of myself, I did discover a lump.
I didn’t know a lot about breast cancer, but I knew enough to be concerned about the lump I’d discovered. At the time, I was pregnant. I had a million questions and ‘what ifs’ running through my mind. I was confused. How did I get this? Where did it come from? How long had it been there? Will I need chemotherapy? I was scared, and I didn’t know anyone who had gone through any aspect of this.
I talked with my Dr who decided it was best to perform a biopsy. It was a simple outpatient procedure with very little discomfort. The mass was removed from my breast, tested and came back benign. I was both thankful and relieved. The procedure didn’t affect my pregnancy in any way. I’m glad to have gone through the process.
It would be nearly 25 years before I would have another professional breast exam performed. I had a mammogram two weeks ago. I received my test results a couple of days ago. The tests came back as normal. There is absolutely no excuse I can give as to why it has taken me so long to have another exam. In my ignorance, I think I’d not taken the time to do it because I didn’t feel another lump, so I believed there was nothing to be concerned about. But, I’m grateful to my dear friend Katrina who is one of the most dedicated and knowledgeable advocates for health care I know. She has been a huge advocate for issues surrounding breast cancer. I’ve heard her give presentations over the years. A few weeks ago, I actually took the time to really listen. I considered my age, my perceptions and a couple of people who are really close to me and how they’d overcome breast cancer. I felt convicted and was convinced it was beyond time to get an exam.
Do NOT allow your age or lack of insurance to falsely convince you to not get an exam. You can perform self exams at home and there are agencies with grant money available to cover your expenses. If you feel anything which makes you feel uncomfortable or painful, talk with your primary care physician immediately. Or, reach out your local health department for assistance. I vow to get an examination each year going forward. I hope this blog will encourage you to do the same and/or share with friends/family.