Let me first say that this note has nothing to do with my book release, book reviews or any books in general. However, it is probably the most important thing I’ll ever write.
A few weeks ago, I noticed a few large lymph nodes in several areas on my body, and decided to go to the doctor. I won’t go into the entire story, but after a series of doctors visits, I ended up at a hematologist. She examined my lymph nodes, ordered a CT, and happened to ask me if I did self-breast exams. My answer was yes, because I honestly believed going to the GYN once a year was enough at 32. They don’t even suggest mammograms until 40 right? Right.
Yesterday, I received my test results. They’d found several large lymph nodes, and a lump…in my breast.
Wait, what? This kind of thing just doesn’t happen to woman my age, I tried telling myself, as I sobbed in my husbands arms. But, much to my surprise, it does.
I’m not as invincible as I thought.
In the last 24 hours, I’ve had a biopsy, mammogram, and ultrasound, and according to my surgeon, this is just the beginning for me as far as tests go. I’m still a little numb, and I find myself saying “But wait! I’m only 32!!”
Breast cancer just isn’t something my friends and I talk about. I don’t think it’s a stage we’ve even entered yet. Maybe we’ve had a family member who’s been diagnosed, but none of us have really ever thought about it personally. At least, I know I haven’t. I remember watching an episode of “Beverly Hills, 90210” where Brenda finds a lump in her breast at 18, and her doctor tells her it’s very rare. I think, in my mind, the term “very rare” has always excluded me somehow. “Oh, it’s rare…ok, well then I guess I’m safe.”
I’ve heard the GYN’s speech, and seen the pamphlets telling you to do monthly breast exams, and yes…I knew it was important. But I always figured it was only important to women over 40. I thought, because I was young, and in the “rare” category”, I was untouchable.
Yesterday was a big wake up call for me.
So why am I sharing this with all of you? I’m hoping that when you read this, you’ll do what I didn’t and make a point to include self-breast exam into your monthly routine. I’ve learned that becoming familiar with our bodies is our greatest defense against cancer.
I still don’t have a diagnosis. I could have some sort of lymphoma, or I could have breast cancer. I could also be one of the many who has nothing wrong at all, and my life will return to normal in a few weeks. But you better be damn sure I will be becoming very familiar with my tatas in the future.
So do me a favor. Share this with your sister, and your mothers. Share this with your best friends, and your co-workers. Share this with the 30-somethings who think they’re invincible like me. We’re woman, and we need to stick together, and take care of each other…boobies and all.
If you need some place to start, check out this great websites where you can learn how to do self-breast exam, learn about early warning signs, and even sign up for monthly reminders!