I had just turned 49 years old when I felt a small lump up towards my right armpit. The sad thing is I ignored it. I had just had a mammogram 2 months earlier - nothing to worry about. This was September of 2009. By the beginning of November I FINALLY decided to make an appointment to have it checked out - still, no worries. I'm a teacher and I was in the middle of parent/teacher conferences. The day of my appointment I cancelled. I was just too busy. My OBGYN even emailed me "Are you sure you want to cancel?” My response was "Yes". I wasn't too concerned. Sometimes I couldn't even find the lump, plus, I had that clear mammogram from a few months ago. Boy was I a fool!
A new year rolled around and I could still feel the lump but it never seemed to increase in size so I continued to ignore it. I had some time off at the beginning of March and I made an appointment with my primary doctor, but just for a well check - not for the lump. At the appointment I asked my doctor's opinion about the lump - 7 months after I first felt it!
Well, she had the good sense to refer me on to surgery and from there my breast cancer journey began.
I was initially diagnosed as Stage II but it was soon discovered that the cancer had spread into my lymph nodes. I was now stage III. By the grace of God it stopped there. A PET scan showed it had not metastasized. I count my blessings every day for that!
4 surgeries, 4 rounds of chemotherapy, 7 weeks of radiation, and 2 years later I am happily cancer-free!
I am a strong advocate of early detection. EARLY DETECTION SAVES LIVES! I speak at awareness events and tell my story whenever I can. I share my ignorance. Mammograms are an amazing detection tool but they are not fool-proof. I encourage women - KNOW YOUR GIRLS! If you feel something - get it checked. My false sense of security could have cost me my life. Better safe than sorry is a good thing.