How did I know I had breast cancer?

Jun 15, 2018 · 4 min read

[Update; I wrote this post last nite. This morning when I looked at it, I wanted to make it clear that I’m not just addressing women in this post. I’d like men to read and understand this as well. Because it’s important they talk to the women in their life, and encourage them to get themselves checked. So, guy or girl, please read on. And take this forward]

I don’t care for pink. Unless it’s rani pink.

Maybe that’s the reason this pink ribbon never really did anything for me.

In fact it still doesn’t.

All the breast cancer survivors I meet, are so bloody awesome. They are bold pink. They are shocking pink. They are fierce pink. Not some washed out baby pink.

And believe me, nothing about cancer is baby pink!

So, my post today, is about a question I’m getting asked a lot. How did I know something was wrong?

Here’s what happened. And I hope you’ll learn from it.

First, I had a lump in my breast. Which I ignored. I knew I had a lump, because since I was 19, I had been getting lumps, and they were always benign.

Thanks to that, I’d always keep a lookout. Which means I would touch my boobs, and examine them. And you should do the same.

But here’s the scary thing. Even though I realised I has a lump. And it was right on top, so I could feel it easily, I dismissed it. Two reasons, one because I was scared. And second, because I convinced myself it had to be benign, like every other time.

Big mistake.

Then, one day, I went for a body massage. And the massage lady told me she could feel a lump. I brushed it aside saying, “ It’s nothing to worry about.” But that’s really when I started to worry. Because I realised the lump was growing, and it was not moving.

It felt like a solid mass. Unlike my previous lumps, which when squeezed, would feel a little more movable.

Then came the thing that freaked me out. My nipple went in. Just like that. It retracted. And as I stared at it while having a shower, I knew that this could be a bad sign. And that’s the day I made the appointment.

So, points to be noted:

Please do a self breast examination. If you can’t, get a friend, lover, massage lady, anyone else to do one for you.

Don’t be an ostrich. It’s okay to be scared, but it’s not okay to delay it. Early stage breast cancer sometimes involves only medication, no surgery, no chemo.

And watch out for the signs.

Next, my maternal grand mom died of ovarian cancer. Unfortunately, I never knew that. I knew it was cancer. But nobody ever spoke about which cancer.

My mother had her ovaries removed very early in life, because she had a lump in her breast. Non cancerous. But yet, they had to remove it, and they also recommended she get her ovaries removed.

Again, no one talks about these thing. I really wish I had known this. I might have known that I was at a bigger risk.

In fact I couldn’t even tell my oncologist this, because I didn’t know it.

So please talk. To your mom and dad. Ask about your family history. Know all the details. Nothing is too minor. Also, from what I understand, if there is any history of breast or ovarian cancer in your family, you might be at a higher risk.

Finally, my breast was dense. Which means it had a lot of lumps and calcifications and pre cancerous formations. I had gone for a sonography a year back thanks to a benign lump. If they had done a mammo-sonography then, chances are they would have spotted the precancerous formations, and I would have been detected at stage zero. But they didn’t do that.

The jury is out on mammograms, but they say if you are over 40, you should get one done every 2 years. So read up and please speak to your gynaecologist about it if you are over 40.

The oncologist told me the problem with breast cancer is there is no visible symptom. No fever, no weight loss, no strange aches, nothing dramatic. So in a lot of cases by the time it’s detected, it’s already past the early stages.

Which means the onus of staying sharp is on us.

So check yourself. Look for signs. Speak to a gynaecologist. Get your tests.

And stay safe.

Coz baby pink looks pretty yucky on most of us.

Also watch this video. The lady makes a lot of sense:

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