My breast surgeon said, “Well, I have some good news and some bad news.” It’s never good to hear this from your doctor…. she continued, “The good news, we got it all. The bad news you have cancer.” The phone almost dropped from my hands as I started to shake. “What was she saying? I can’t have breast cancer. I’m healthy and don’t have a family history.” What followed was a lengthy monologue about further surgery, sentinel lymph node dissection, need to get receptor status, possible radiation and chemotherapy. I couldn’t process it and my head was spinning. That day will be forever imprinted in my memory – March 27th, 2018.
If you’d like to read my blog posts regarding my journey through breast cancer, please go to the blog page on my old website, which chronicles the emotional and physical challenges of this diagnosis. Each article is linked at the bottom of this blog post.
Literally, the tables had turned and I was now the patient sitting on the exam table with the paper vest on, vulnerable, scared and fearing what was around the corner for me.
Here are some simple facts about breast cancer.
1. Age increases risk.
When we look at the numbers, by the age of 80, a woman has a risk of 1 in 8 of developing breast cancer. Here are the numbers for the other decades according to the SEER report, which estimates the risk of developing breast cancer in 10-year age intervals. According to the report, the risk that a woman will be diagnosed with breast cancer during the next 10 years, starting at the following ages, is as follows:
Age 30 . . . . . . 0.48% (or 1 in 208)
Age 40 . . . . . . 1.53% (or 1 in 65)
Age 50 . . . . . . 2.38% (or 1 in 42)
Age 60 . . . . . . 3.54% (or 1 in 28)
Age 70 . . . . . . 4.07% (or 1 in 25)
2. Most breast cancers occur in women with NO family history. Over 80% of breast cancer are not genetically inherited. Of note – I had NO family history of breast cancer.
3. If detected early, there is over 90% survival rate. My cancer WAS detected early – being Stage 1 and I underwent a lumpectomy with external radiation therapy to reduce the risk of recurrence.
I share this story with you because this month, October, is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. My cancer was detected on my annual screening mammogram, because I have dense breasts, this was a 3-D mammogram with tomosynthesis. Early detection is key to diagnosis and survival.
I strongly believe that my breast cancer was due to STRESS and if you read my blogs you will better understand why I make this claim. It was my wake-up call to make changes in my life – striving for better self-care and realization of what I could physically, emotionally and spiritually do to live my best life ever.
I am a breast cancer survivor. My next mammogram and breast check-up with my breast surgeon will be in mid- November and I will update you all with the findings.
Please get screened for breast cancer – be it mammography, ultrasound, MRI or thermography. Take the first step for detection – it may very well save your life!
If you'd like to read more about my journey follow the links below: