Family history or BRCA mutation?
My mother was diagnosed with late stage breast cancer when she was 35, and she died of metastatic breast cancer when she was 40 years old. No other aunts, cousins, grandparents with breast cancer. I tested negative for the BRCA mutations. Obviously there was some genetic link between my mom and me, but nobody knows what it was.
Who caught it?
Routine mammogram caught mine. Since my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer at 35, I began routine screening at the age of 25. Every year I'd get a bilateral mammogram, plus ultrasounds. When I was 28 years old, the radiologist told me that I had fibrocystic breast tissue and I had multiple benign tumors in each breast. "You're a complicated breast case," he said to me. "At least I'm not a head case, right?" I joked. He didn't laugh.
The radiologist saw that in my mammogram when I was 28 years, I had these calcifications in the right breast. The calcifications had doubled since then, which meant cell growth, which meant.... malignant cells.
What were the signs?
There were no signs for me. That's the scary part. Since I had dense breast tissue and been told I had multiple cysts, tumors, etc. in each breasts, I didn't bother doing self breast exams. My breasts were just lumpy and bumpy. Since I have generalized anxiety disorder, I didn't want to get myself worked up by obsessing over all the lumps in my breasts. Looking back, I'm glad I did that or I would have driven myself mad.
Did your doctors listen to you?
My doctors took everything pertaining to my complicated breasts seriously. A couple of years, I thought they were putting me through too many invasive procedures and ultrasound guided biopsies. Because of my mom, every doctor I encountered took any potential threat in my breasts very seriously.
|How I felt after every mammogram.|
What would you say to a young woman who thinks she might have something wrong?
I echo all my friends whose stories I have published so far - listen to your body. If something feels off, like that lump isn't going away or maybe that pain isn't normal, go see a doctor. If you feel a doctor didn't take your concerns seriously, then find another doctor who listens to you.