November 19, 2019. This is the day the ball got rolling, but it started before then. Have you ever felt like the universe is trying to tell you something? Summer of 2019 I started to get this nagging feeling like something wasn’t quite right. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but things just didn’t seem right.
A little history for you… my grandma Joyce had breast cancer which she eventually passed away from complications of when I was in University, and I had a cousin who also passed away when she was young due to breast cancer. Despite this, and knowing this, I have never been great at completing my own monthly breast exams. The thing is despite knowing how important it is, having the history, it just wasn’t something that I thought of often.
During the summer I started to notice some discomfort when my kids, who were 5 and 2 at the time, would put pressure on my chest. The discomfort was on the right side. We enjoyed the summer going to multiple family weddings, camping, and just overall enjoying our summer as a family of 5.
I began paying closer attention but of course had my own excuses and reasons for the discomfort. I’m nursing my son, I have been working out lifting weights, I’m busy so I’m sure it’s nothing. However, I started doing more self-exams at that point focused around the area of discomfort (think 12 o’clock).
November 19, 2019. I was teaching an exercise class at my clinic, and during the session is when I happened to find the lump – a hard, immovable spot – right next to my sternum on the right side (think 3 o’clock), no where near the area of discomfort. Far more medial than I had anticipated. It almost felt like a rib head. Being a physiotherapist I have a basic working knowledge of “bad” lumps. When I felt it I knew it wasn’t a good sign. As soon as the class ended I called my doctors office and got in for an appointment 45 minutes later. I didn’t have to advocate at all here, I was given a requisition for an ultrasound and encouraged to book “the next available appointment”.
For anyone who hasn’t seen the https://knowyourlemons.com/ campaign, they developed this really great visual of what breast cancer can look like, but of course on lemons.
Other than discomfort – which nearly all advertising states is often a sign that is *shouldn’t* be cancer – I had zero external signs (the invisible lump). I didn’t get any of these visible signs until January 12 ; 5 days after I started chemo. It began puckering, like the indentation one but without any discoloration or physical skin changes. It’s subtle and I doubt I would notice it if I wasn’t paying attention.
Nothing beats self-identified changes. Get them examined. Rather be benign or ‘nothing’ then it be cancer festering away uninhibited.
Share with your friends and family and hopefully we will all spread some awareness and steer someone to discover this beast while it is curable.