Breast Cancer Awareness is Important for Everyone
There are a lot of misconceptions about breast health: it's only a women's issue, it's only important for older women, if there's no family history of problems, there's no need to worry...
Let me tell you my story.
I was around 18 when I discovered a lump in my right breast while I was in the shower. It freaked me out. I panicked...but didn't want to tell anyone. (I still don't know why.)
I made an appointment with a doctor -- it was 'probably a cyst,' I was told. I got an ultrasound done. It wasn't a cyst. I needed a biopsy. (Biopsy? Doesn't that mean cancer? I panicked again.)
At that point, I knew I had to tell Mama C. She came with me to my appointment at the Jacqueline Wilentz Breast Center at Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch.
I had a fine needle biopsy. They insert a needle, take out some cells, and examine them. My diagnosis? Fibroadenoma. A benign tumor. (Phew.)
I would have to go for ultrasound tests every six months to monitor it and make sure it wasn't growing or changing.
I have since discovered that I have dozens of these fibroadenomas in both breasts. Last year I discovered an especially large one on my left side. My doctor told me I should get another biopsy, just to be sure.
This time it was a core needle biopsy. It was more painful than the fine needle, but it's more accurate, and totally worth it to find out it was just another benign tumor.
I still go for ultrasounds every six months. I do regular self-exams. I am vigilant.
If something should turn malignant, I will do my best to catch it early.
I can't urge you enough to do the same. If you're over 40, get a mammogram. Yes, it's painful, and uncomfortable, and even a little embarrassing, but it could save your life.
If you're under 40, you should be going to a gynecologist once a year anyway. He or she should be doing a breast exam. If you don't know how to do a self-exam, ask. (Yeah, I guess it's a little weird to feel yourself up, but whatever, it takes like two minutes and I promise it's not a big deal.)
And men, you are not immune. While, only 1% of breast cancer cases occur in men, it's still possible. (Ask Peter Criss, Wall Township resident, and original drummer from the band Kiss.) If you feel something strange on your chest, get it checked out. It's better to be safe than sorry.