Self-exams led to woman finding breast cancer early twice
Nearing my 39th birthday, I found a lump in my right breast while doing my monthly self-breast check. I immediately scheduled an appointment with my primary care doctor.
At that visit, my doctor examined me and told me it was normal breast tissue. I put it in the back of my head and went about life. The lump was still there two months later. I was coming up on my annual exam with my GYN in June, so I asked my doctor to double check my breast. Upon examination, she said it was nothing and that my breast tissue was normal.
In my gut, I felt something was wrong. I asked her what it was, because I had felt the lump consistently for the past few months. Her words were, “If it makes you feel better, we will schedule a mammogram.”
Well, I am glad she did. I had my first mammogram a few weeks shy of turning 39. Not knowing what to expect, the mammogram went well. However, I didn’t know it wasn’t protocol for the radiologist to come and speak with you.
I waited for her to come in for what felt like hours, but I am sure it was just 15-20 minutes. She told me she saw some spots on my mammogram and wanted to follow up with an ultrasound and biopsy. She added that the spots were very small and could more than likely be nothing.
A week later I was in for my biopsy. All went well, and I was told I should have my results in a week. That week, which included my 39th birthday, I received a call and heard those three dreaded words: “You have cancer.”
I was numb. What went from normal breast tissue and nothing, became Stage 3 HER 2 positive breast cancer.
After 16 rounds of chemo, 26 rounds of radiation and a double mastectomy, I survived!
Fast forward to November 2020, when I detected another lump in almost the same spot. After reaching out to my doctor, I was scheduled for an ultrasound, biopsy and CT scan to confirm if it was scar tissue from my previous surgeries. In January 2021, I received the call that it had returned, this time in my chest walls. Good news was, again I had detected it early.
As I prepare for additional surgeries, chemo and radiation, I am thankful that I am still here to share my story. I encourage everyone to conduct their self-breast checks monthly and make sure to have their mammograms. Early detection could save your life.
Tricshone Jiles is an employee at GuideWell, the parent company of Florida Blue.
Filed under: Health Education