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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Breast cancer awareness is very important to me because there have been so many people in my life who have lost their lives to the disease or been affected by it.

I almost missed knowing my grandmother because she developed breast cancer. My grandmother is a fighter, and she opted to have a mastectomy as well as chemotherapy, and I’m glad she did, because she’s now 89.5 years old and very fit for her age. She never gave up; she got treatment and kept fighting. I went to the Susan G. Komen™ and Bank of America Everyday Portraits site and created a portrait of my grandma, made from my own words. Through Everyday Portraits, Bank of America felt it was important to put faces to those who have been fearless, heroic and courageous in their fight against breast cancer, and my grandma definitely belongs in that group! For every portrait made in the month of October, they are contributing $5 to Susan G. Komen™.

When I was in my early twenties, during a regular exam I found a lump in my breast. My first gynecologist blew it off, saying I was too young to worry about breast cancer. After 8 months it felt like it had gotten larger, and I was worried. I had lost my insurance at this point, so I went to Planned Parenthood. The gynecologist I saw there determined that yes, I did have a large lump and they were unsure what it was. Because my grandmother had had breast cancer, they said it was possible I had it, too. At 22 years old, I was scared that I would die from breast cancer. Luckily, my Planned Parenthood had an angel donor who paid for my surgery to have the lump removed. The surgery was painful, but the three days after the surgery were the worst, as I had to wait to find out if the tissue they had removed was pre-cancerous or cancer. I cried tears of joy when I realized that I didn’t have breast cancer and I wasn’t going to die. I was grateful that I did monthly exams on my breasts and that I was lucky.

A few years ago, my best friend felt lumps in his breast tissue. His grandfather had breast cancer, but it wasn’t something his family really talked about. Since cancer runs in his family, though, he went to get his lumps checked out. That exam showed that he did have calcification in his breast tissue. To be safe, his doctors recommended that he have a bilateral mastectomy. He went through this very painful procedure. Waiting for the results was nerve-wracking. Thankfully, he was found to be cancer free.

There are so many myths that surround breast cancer–that men can’t get it, or that young women can’t get it–but many of them are simply not true. Anyone can get it. It is always important to check with your doctor if you find a lump.

  • From our partners
    • http://www.thefabzilla.com/ Kath TheFabZilla

      I can imagine your fear! Good thing that it was removed, and thanks to your early detection, you won the battle. 

      • http://www.Phyrra.net/ Phyrra

        Kath TheFabZilla It was so terrible!

    • http://www.cinseven13.blogspot.com/ cinseven13

      Baseline mammograms are often covered by insurance beginning at age 35, yet I know a lot of women in the 35-39 age range who haven’t had it done because they’re “not 40.”   It’s worth a phone call to the insurance company to find out when each woman can have it done.

      • http://www.Phyrra.net/ Phyrra

        cinseven13 You are so right!

    • pammyblogbeauty

      Thank you for sharing your story! Early detection saves lives for sure! So glad that you had the surgery and that everything turned out fine! I lost one of my best friends to Cancer 7 years ago (melanoma). We all need to do what we can to raise awareness!

      • http://www.Phyrra.net/ Phyrra

        pammyblogbeauty I agree with you Pam!

    • The Lacquer Factor

      Thank goodness for early detection and your angel donor!!

      • http://www.Phyrra.net/ Phyrra

        The Lacquer Factor I agree!

    • http://www.beautythesis.net/ Beauty Thesis

      Early detection is so important, I’m glad you persisted past the initial dismissal!

      • http://www.Phyrra.net/ Phyrra

        Beauty Thesis Me too! It was frustrating to have a dr tell me ‘no big deal’

    • natasha hennaphile

      Thanks for sharing your story! And thanks for your angel donor!!!  I had a cyst once, and waiting for the biopsy results were just harrowing (esp. since Mom, Grandma and Great-grandma have all had breast cancer).  And kudos for pointing out that breast cancer isn’t just for women; men can get it, too.Just came back from a seminar on thermal imaging — uses heat to see points of infection in the body rather than x-rays or sound waves.  Fascinating.  It’s actually a much better tool for breast cancer detection in younger women who have denser breasts.  I really hope insurance companies start accepting and paying for new diagnostic and treatment tools because the more tools we have in the box, the more options people have — and options save lives.

      • http://www.Phyrra.net/ Phyrra

        natasha hennaphile Natasha, that sounds cool!

    • AmberDunson

      Thank you so much sharing this post. 

      • http://www.Phyrra.net/ Phyrra

        AmberDunson You’re welcome. I just know that I am not alone in my experience with Breast Cancer, so I hope by sharing my story more women will get checked and not get discouraged.

    • thecakepie

      You made such good points about how we make assumptions about who gets breast cancer. Thank you for sharing your experiences, I personally feel connected to your stories.This year my beloved aunt was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer, and had a very tough year. She’s pulling through now with no sign of cancer, and she’s doing better than anyone could have predicted which makes me so happy. One day there WILL be a cure.

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