The little ball of fear that had been sitting in the pit of my stomach for a few weeks vanished when I read the letter.
“I am pleased to inform you that your mammogram was found to be NORMAL,” said the letter from my regional health authority.
Well, phew. I don’t have to worry about breast cancer until my next mammogram in two years. I was so relieved that I announced the news to my family at supper. High fives from my husband and two daughters, then aged nine and 12.
The letter stated that mammograms aren’t foolproof and encouraged breast self-exams, but it left out a crucial bit of information that could have cost me my life.
It turns out that I am one of the nearly three million Canadian women over the age of 40 who have dense breasts. The letter did not tell me that. Nor did it tell me that because I have dense breasts, I have a higher chance of developing breast cancer and that it will be harder to detect on a mammogram. Mammograms miss more than 50 per cent of the cancers in the densest breasts.
While I went on living my life, a cluster of aggressive cancer cells that could not reasonably be seen on the mammogram was multiplying in my left breast. I found the cancer on my own by accident about five months later in November 2015 when I stayed at a hotel that didn’t have those shower puffs I use at home. My soapy hand grazed over the underside of my breast and there it was — a lump just a bit smaller than a golf ball.
I’ve been to Hell and back since then — breast surgery, 16 rounds of chemotherapy, six weeks of radiation and now hormone therapy. Rarely a day goes by that I don’t think about what would have happened if I didn’t go to that hotel without the puff. What if I didn’t find the lump for another several months and the cancer had spread to my lymph nodes and bones? Would my daughters be paying tribute to their dead mother by writing my name on the back of their shirts at the Run for the Cure?
You can’t tell how dense breasts are just by looking at them, by their firmness or their size. Only a radiologist can determine breast density by looking at …
Source:: The Huffington Post – Canada Travel