I am writing this post today because of my personal experience. As of this week, I am a 26-year-survivor of breast cancer. I am telling you this to let you know early detection is key to survival and it is important to do self-exams, have recommended mammograms, and contact your doctor with any questions or suspicions. I am sharing this with you to let you know I was only 40-years-old and I did not have any of the reasons listed above. No one in my family had ever had breast cancer at that time, I had never drank alcohol (or smoked), and I was and always had been slender. So I was surprised to have breast cancer and to be facing a bilateral mastectomy. I want others to be aware and check themselves regularly. I also want people to know that with early detection, breast cancer does not have to be fatal. Chances of survival are good.
Here are some things to look for to protect yourself:
- The most common symptom is a new lump or mass of tissue in the breast (I had a problem with fibroid tumors). If you feel a new lump, contact your doctor right away. Do not wait around to see if it will go away.
- Unusual swelling of any part of the breast.
- Skin irritation of the breast with no noticeable reason.
- Pain in the breast or nipple.
- Nipple turning inward.
- Nipple discharge (excluding breast milk)
Any of these symptoms should be reported to the doctor right away. Don't put off contacting your doctor. Breast cancer does not disappear and the sooner it is treated, the better your chances of survival.
Breast cancer usually occurs in women because of the female hormones but men can also have breast cancer.