25 years ago, at the age of 42, I had my first mammogram, which was part of my routine checkup. I had no symptoms at the time.
I was devastated when the radiologist discovered a shadow in my left breast. To confirm this, a biopsy was scheduled, and indeed, the biopsy confirmed that I had breast cancer.
I consider myself fortunate because we caught it early, and there was no involvement of lymph nodes. Following the biopsy, I underwent a surgical lumpectomy. The subsequent weeks were marked by radiation treatment, which unfortunately resulted in second-degree burns on my left breast. The pain during those weeks was quite intense, but I persevered. I knew I had to survive for the sake of my three young children.
As a result of the treatment, my left breast is now distorted and smaller, but I’ve come to accept it. I’m grateful for each day I wake up, knowing I have another opportunity to lead a healthy life.
I now make it a point to have my mammograms annually, and tomorrow is my next appointment. I always feel a bit anxious, hoping they won’t find anything, and I pray for negative results. Please keep me in your prayers too.
I urge you to be proactive about your own health. Follow your physician’s recommendations and get regular mammograms. The CDC and the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force recommend screening every other year from ages 40 to 74.
Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths among women in the United States. Familiarize yourself with the warning signs, which can include:
- A new lump in the breast or underarm
- Thickening or swelling in part of the breast
- Irritation or dimpling of breast skin
- Redness or flaky skin around the nipple area or on the breast
- Nipple discharge that isn’t breast milk, including blood
- Nipple changes such as pulling in or pain
- Any changes in the size of the nipple or breast
- Pain in any area of the breast
However, like me, you might not experience any symptoms at all. So, please, be proactive and schedule a mammogram when the time comes. Your health is worth it.