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Life, Lifestyle

Let’s talk about breasts, baby

I just watched Ladylike’s amazing new video featuring Devin and her mum called “We Took My Mom Bra Shopping” and had a really, really good cry.

Here is the amazing video:

This month is breast cancer awareness month, and I have been thinking of ways I can talk about it. However, until now, I couldn’t really find a way to talk about it since just the topic in general brings on the tears.

Breast cancer is a subject that hits really close to home – and so many people can say that – as both my aunt and, more recently, my mum have both been diagnosed and survived breast cancer.

When my mum phoned me to tell me that she had been to the doctor and that her diagnosis was confirmed, the news was nothing short of devastating.

After seeing and living the total and utter hell my aunt went through at such a young age, I could not imagine another family member having to go through a similar thing.

If I remember correctly, my first question was: “how bad is it?” and my next through was “I hope it isn’t bad, please”. But is there even such a thing? All I know for sure about the day she told me, was that I cried for days. I cried at home, I cried at work, I cried in the car.

And, I am crying now.

I asked my mum to give me a whole run down on her diagnosis and treatment, so that I could share the facts with you. In her words, this is what happened:

  • I went for a routine screening mammogram in November 2014 and then came to SA for Lauren’s (my sister) 21st birthday.
  • When I came back to the UK I had been sent another letter asking me to attend a biopsy which I had missed, so I rescheduled the appointment for 6/1/15.
  • The result of this biopsy was inconclusive, so it was repeated on 22/1/15. This showed a 7mm grade 1 invasive ductal carcinoma.
  • There was no spread to lymph nodes, biopsy of L/N’s were negative.
  • I had wide excision of the lump on 14/2/15 then after the wound healed (I had a bit of a problem with my wound) I had radiotherapy from 13/5 to 3/6/15. I took the doctor’s advice that this was the best treatment for me.
  • I followed up after 6 months, then annually since.
  • I am now supposed to take Anastrazole 1mg daily for 10 years to hopefully prevent recurrence.

My stomach literally turns when I read “to hopefully prevent recurrence”.

Tear, again.

All of this medical jargon says absolutely nothing about what my mum actually went through. The pain and discomfort, the surgery, the emotional affects, and everything else that goes with it. It was nothing less than traumatic – even if my mum won’t say so.

I can’t imagine half the things my mum would have had to go through. I can’t imagine the insane pain she went through during the procedures. I can’t imagine how absolutely terrifying it all must have been. And I can’t imagine having to get in the car and go there in the first place knowing that you have to go through all of this in order to ‘save’ yourself.

What are the signs?

DISCLAIMER: Please note that I am not a health care professional, I am providing my readers with nothing but information that can be found on cancer.org, a reputable health website, that can be used in their own capacity.

So first of all, it’s really important to know what your breasts look like and feel like in general. This will then give you an indication of detecting change early and getting treatment asap.

Note: Knowing what to look for should not take the place of having regular mammograms and other screening tests.

The most common symptom of breast cancer is a new lump or mass. The mass more likely to be cancer is painless, hard and its edges are irregular, however, they can equally be tender, soft, rounded and painful. This being said,

The most common symptom of breast cancer is a new lump or mass. A painless, hard mass that has irregular edges is more likely to be cancer, but breast cancers can be tender, soft, or rounded. They can even be painful. For this reason, it is important to have any new breast mass, lump, or breast change checked by a health care professional experienced in diagnosing breast diseases.

Some of the other symptoms, include:

  • Swelling – this could be swelling of all or part of a breast. And there doesn’t need to be a distinct lump felt, either)
  • Irritation – Skin irritation comes in numerous forms, including dimpling (think of an orange peel)
  • Pain – this pain could be nipple and/or breast pain
  • Nipple retraction
  • Skin changes – the changes may include redness, scariness or thickening
  • Discharge – this included discharge that is not breast milk.

Sometimes breast cancer can be present is in the lymph nodes under your arm – which is where my mum’s was – or around the collar bone area. The signs to look out for would be swelling, which would occur before a tumour would be large enough to be felt.

Note: These symptoms can be caused by other things, not just breast cancer, and you should get checked out immediately if you suffer from any of the above. Equally, mammograms do not find every breast cancer, so please be aware of any changes your breasts go through and educate yourself on the signs and symptoms on breast cancer.

As someone who has been touched by breast cancer, I urge all women to educate themselves and to pay attention to their breast health.

Don’t be scared, feel and look at your breasts and make sure you know everything about them in order to keep on top of any risks and changes. It’s better to find and catch any changes early – like my mum did – and in order to do that, you have to pay attention.

 

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