Thursday, 23 August 2007

Here's the post where I jump on the bandwagon

I am jumping on the bandwagon. It is a good bandwagon, so I figure what the heck.

Team Why Mommy

I've wanted to say something about my experiences with breast cancer, but after reading so many other posts, I truly feel unworthy of sharing the same blogging space as some of you.

My Baba (grandmother) had breast cancer when I was quite young - 6 or 7 years old. I don't even remember, although I have now become very used to seeing her prosthetic breast and going bra and bathing suit shopping with her.

A close friend of mine had breast cancer a few years ago and had to endure a year of treatments and a mastectomy before she was officially in remission. I taught her piano lessons during this time of her life, and I felt truly blessed to be able to spend some quality time with her NOT talking about the cancer.

I had a lump removed from my left breast 2 years ago. It was a fibroadenoma, which is a benign growth. It was not essential to have it removed, but there was a risk that it would grow if I were to become pregnant (which I did 6 months later). So I went under local anesthetic and had the thing removed. No, I did not save it in a jar.

But this story is the true reason for joining Team Why Mommy. Awareness and spreading a message of hope (as taken from Toddler Planet):

Inflammatory breast cancer

Monday July 23rd 2007, 3:11 pm
Filed under: About Us / Favorites, breast cancer

We hear a lot about breast cancer these days. One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetimes, and there are millions living with it in the U.S. today alone. But did you know that there is more than one type of breast cancer?

I didn’t. I thought that breast cancer was all the same. I figured that if I did my monthly breast self-exams, and found no lump, I’d be fine.

Oops. It turns out that you don’t have to have a lump to have breast cancer. Six weeks ago, I went to my OB/GYN because my breast felt funny. It was red, hot, inflamed, and the skin looked…funny. But there was no lump, so I wasn’t worried. I should have been. After a round of antibiotics didn’t clear up the inflammation, my doctor sent me to a breast specialist and did a skin punch biopsy. That test showed that I have inflammatory breast cancer, a very aggressive cancer that can be deadly.

Inflammatory breast cancer is often misdiagnosed as mastitis because many doctors have never seen it before and consider it rare. “Rare” or not, there are over 100,000 women in the U.S. with this cancer right now; only half will survive five years. Please call your OB/GYN if you experience several of the following symptoms in your breast, or any unusual changes: redness, rapid increase in size of one breast, persistent itching of breast or nipple, thickening of breast tissue, stabbing pain, soreness, swelling under the arm, dimpling or ridging (for example, when you take your bra off, the bra marks stay – for a while), flattening or retracting of the nipple, or a texture that looks or feels like an orange (called peau d’orange). Ask if your GYN is familiar with inflammatory breast cancer, and tell her that you’re concerned and want to come in to rule it out.

There is more than one kind of breast cancer. Inflammatory breast cancer is the most aggressive form of breast cancer out there, and early detection is critical. It’s not usually detected by mammogram. It does not usually present with a lump. It may be overlooked with all of the changes that our breasts undergo during the years when we’re pregnant and/or nursing our little ones. It’s important not to miss this one.

Inflammatory breast cancer is detected by women and their doctors who notice a change in one of their breasts. If you notice a change, call your doctor today. Tell her about it. Tell her that you have a friend with this disease, and it’s trying to kill her. Now you know what I wish I had known before six weeks ago.

You don’t have to have a lump to have breast cancer.

P.S. Feel free to steal this post too. I’d be happy for anyone in the blogosphere to take it and put it on their site, no questions asked. Dress it up, dress it down, let it run around the place barefoot. I don’t care. But I want the word to get out. I don’t want another young mom — or old man — or anyone in between — to have to stare at this thing on their chest and wonder, is it mastitis? Is it a rash? Am I overreacting? This cancer moves FAST, and early detection and treatment is critical for survival.

Thank you.


  1. This is going to sound weird, but I hadn't thought of my grandmother's prosthetic breast in years. Reading your mention of it (not the same grandmother, I know) makes me want to cry. Not because I'm sad (I miss her, but it's been years), but because all of my love for her and familiarity with her has just rushed to the surface. All over a prosthetic breast.

    It's funny, because I grew up watching her put her "fake boob" into her bra in the morning. It was just a part of her and totally normal to me. I hadn't thought of it in so long and now I genuinely feel full of love because she really will always be with me.

    I gotta tell you, thank you for that seemingly simple detail. I'm probably not making sense and cheesing even myself out, but just thank you.

  2. Megan:
    Thanks for the touching comment. The fake boob really is part of my Baba as I know her, and I mostly forget that it is there or that she ever had cancer. And she is very light hearted about it - jokes and all.

  3. I love that you mostly forget that it is there. Gives me hope for my kids.

    Thanks for posting this week. This was so nice to see today.

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  5. I was just diagnosed with breast cancer at age 25. If you are interested in reading someone's personal stories about their fight against this disease, take a look at my blog. I'm hoping that it will help other people that are young who have been diagnosed, especially those that have no family history..


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