August 7, 2019
I wanted to share my story.
I’m not sharing this because I think anyone is culpable or responsible - as to be honest I don’t know and there is no evidence to support that claim. I am sharing this story because I want women to know that sometimes we are reassured that our bodies are well and there isn’t anything sinister going on, but we must remain vigilant, proactive and listen to our bodies.
About 18 months ago, I started experiencing intense breast pain. It coincided with my period at times and sometimes it was just random. I mentioned this to my GP who proactively referred me to a specialist who saw me within 10 days of referral (privately). After undergoing a mammogram and an ultrasound I was told that my breasts were clear and the pain could be hormonal activity increasing with age (as I turned 40 last year). In November 2018, I developed a painful lump in my left nipple. Again my GP referred me immediately to another specialist. They did an ultrasound first and discovered something additional to my painful lump in the nipple. This was not visible in the mammogram.
After my biopsies, they told me the painful lump in my nipple was a grade 1 breast cancer and the one discovered only in my ultrasound was a grade 2 breast cancer. They were surprised these were not visible in my ultrasound 6 months prior and they felt that it potentially could have been there. Anyway, after my surgery, it was confirmed that it had traveled to 8 of my lymph nodes (my surgeon had removed a total of 20).
I don’t have any risk factors - there is no family history, I don’t smoke, I maintain a fairly healthy lifestyle and breastfed both my babies. I was quite complacent in my thinking that I could get other cancers but Iwould never get breast cancer - I didn’t fit the criteria at all.
The message I am trying to convey is please don’t be ignorant like me, breast cancer doesn’t discriminate, often we become too busy in our lives and we prioritise ourselves last because we are wives and mothers and we are busy. Perhaps there was a tumour there that wasn’t visible that was causing my pain, perhaps there wasn’t - we don’t know. After seeing the specialist in May I continued having these pains and thought that my pain was related to hormonal activity. Had I got back again earlier perhaps it may have been picked up- perhaps not, perhaps it may not have traveled to my lymph nodes. I don’t know.
We must listen to our bodies, be brave and talk openly about changes and take action quickly (without leaving it and thinking that in time it will go away).
If your GP isn’t as proactive as you then please go to another GP.