I thought my risk of getting breast cancer hovered between 0 and -25%. I have posted before about going for my mammography every year just because I follow doctor's orders and how every time I went, I thought it was a waste of time - managing-diagnosis-from-super-woman-to-cancer-patient-in-two-seconds-flat.html and managing-diagnosis-part-2-superwoman-to-cancer-patient.html.
Why did I believe I had no chance of getting breast cancer? Simple - I had no family history of breast cancer and no lumps and no cancer period in my family. Obviously, I was wrong.
You see, what no one understands until it happens to them is that family history has to start somewhere. I wish it did not start anywhere in any family and most of all, of course, I wish it did not start in my family but it does and it did.
Most women who heard that I had been diagnosed immediately told me, like I was a priest and they were in a confessional, that it had been x many years since their last mammography. I understand many health insurance plans and "medical guidelines" do not approve mammography on women under a certain age and/or other "rules" but I do stand by the fact that my yearly screening, which to me was like going to the dentist (and I do not have a phobia of dentists like some people) - it was just a necessity to check off the box and move on.
Even in April 2016 when I was put on the 6 month squeeze plan instead of the yearly plan I had been doing since I was 34, I still believed it was much ado about nothing. How could cancer be in my breast? I cringe and worry about the women who do not go to their screenings. I know sometimes the screenings are wrong, that there are false positives and false negatives but without it, I do not think I would have any hope of beating this damn thing.
So what are the true risks of getting breast cancer? It is 1 in 8; 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lives. So if you have 8 friends, one of you will get it. Are all of you going to the screenings and checking your own breasts for any changes? Not just lumps also skin changes, puckering, nipple changes, etc.
For me, even with my yearly (then 6-month) mammography screenings, we did find the breast cancer but it was not until I had my surgery that the true size of the cancer was confirmed. My surgeon guessed it would be about 6 cm even though he was not 100% sure of the MRI reading (dense breasts make for a hard read on what is cancer and what is not) - when I was operated on, I had 5.6cm mass in my right breast but only one tiny lump had been biopsied and confirmed as cancer at my first diagnosis.
This disease is insidious and smart - it hides behind healthy tissue and does not always represent as a tennis ball sized lump in your breast.
So, family history starts somewhere and I hope and pray it started and ends with me.
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