|State:|| British Columbia, Canada|
|Date of diagnosis:|
|Age at time of diagnosis:|
|Stage of diagnosis:|
|NORMAL mammogram:|| within 4 months|
|How was cancer diagnosed:|| felt by Michelle |
July 2014 I found two little lumps on my breast while showering. Weird because I hadn’t noticed them before; it was like they had ‘floated’ up to the skins surface overnight. My GP thought it may be hormonal and said she would book an ultrasound, but to give it a month and if they went away, to just call and cancel the ultrasound. They didn’t go away.
Fast forward to August 26, 2014…ya, not a good day. When my Dr. told me I had breast cancer, the stress of hearing that was unbearable. It is amazing what went through my head at that moment. Am I going to die, how am I doing to tell my husband, my family… Oh god, how am I going to tell my children, they are so small. Will they have to live without me? My Dr., god bless her, took me by the hand and kept on saying, ‘you are going to be ok, you are going to be ok.’ I don’t know how many times she said that, but when I did hear her, something clicked in my brain and I was like, UH-uh! I turned to her and said, “Mary, I don’t have time for this…what is the plan?” She looked at me, smiled, and said, “I know you don’t.” And so it began.
Kicker is that I had a Mammogram that past April and it came back ‘NORMAL.’ I was told by my Medical Oncologist, that my breast cancer was in my breast for at least 3 years… 3 YEARS! But how can that be? I have had a mammogram each year for the past 3 years. I don’t understand. Her response was that it was my age the had worked against me. My age? But I am still quite young.
She went on to explain that the Radiologists took a look at my Mammogram, saw white (Dense breast tissue and cancer show as white on a Mammogram), looked at my age, and dismissed it as Dense Breast. They dismissed it… just like that… 3 times!!! That radiologist took my life in their hands and made that call and they were WRONG!... very wrong! Because of this, I missed out on having it diagnosed early, where I would have only had to have a possible lumpectomy. Instead, because someone made that call, I have been thru 3 surgeries, so far, including a double mastectomy, chemotherapy which just about killed me. I was admitted to the hospital 17 days in total during the first 6 weeks of Chemo. I have endured 28 rounds of Radiation and I have one more reconstructive surgery to go through, which I have pushed to the new year because mark my word, I am not going to even chance missing out on Christmas this year. I made a promise to my family that this Christmas would be SPECTACULAR and I plan to keep to my word.
Needless to say, they chose the wrong woman to do this to because I am MAD. I told my father this summer that I had to at least try and do something to spread the awareness of this here in Canada… I know if I don’t, that this will always weigh on me. I have to try! Every woman deserves to be given ALL the information about their health, and as it stands here in Canada, Radiologists do not need to tell us we have dense breasts. Interesting isn’t it. They do not even need to give our GP’s this information.
I don’t want anyone going through what I did because my doctors decided to take it upon themselves to make the call on my health… that is my job!
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Breast density is one of the strongest predictors of the failure of mammography screening to detect cancer.
Two-thirds of pre-menopausal women and 1/4 of post menopausal women have dense breast tissue.
Adding more sensitive tests to mammography significantly increase detection of invasive cancers that are small and node negative.
American College of Radiology describes women with "Dense Breast Tissue" as having a higher than average risk of Breast Cancer.
While a mammogram detects 98% of cancers in women with fatty breasts, it finds only 48% in women with the densest breasts.
A woman at average risk and a woman at high risk have an EQUAL chance of having their cancer masked by mammogram.
Women with dense breasts who had breast cancer have a four times higher risk of recurrence than women with less-dense breasts.
A substantial proportion of Breast Cancer can be attributed to high breast density alone.
Cancer turns up five times more often in women with extremely dense breasts than those with the most fatty tissue.
There are too many women who are unaware of their breast density, believe their “Happy Gram” when it reports no significant findings and are at risk of receiving a later stage cancer diagnosis.