Earlier in October, our local newspaper had a section dedicated to Breast Cancer Awareness. As I read through the pages of articles about Breast Cancer as well as advertisements for local businesses who were supporting Breast Cancer Awareness in one way or another, my eye was drawn to an article that mentioned Radiologist, Dr Daina Pack. Dr. Pack played an important role in my cancer journey. At the time of my first mammogram and ultrasound, Dr. Pack was the one who told me with a crack in her voice that there were two masses in my right breast that needed to be biopsied and the results would most likely be abnormal. While she was the first to deliver this news, she was also the one that performed a needle biopsy on an extremely difficult to find axillary lymph node. I was told she was the best and that she was the one I would definitely want in my situation. It was not a memorable step in my journey but I am thinking she probably felt a little redeemed when she got to be the one to call and tell me the tested lymph node was not cancerous. Read more about that HERE and HERE.
I found the article to be very interesting and not just because Dr. Pack was offering her profession opinion. It spoke of a new Maryland law that went into effect on Oct 1st that requires that when a woman has a mammogram she must now receive as part of her results information about the density of her breasts. About half of all women have dense or highly dense breasts, and from what I understand the younger a woman is, the more dense her breasts are likely to be. Cancer can be missed on a mammogram of someone with increased density because of how similar the dense tissue and cancer appears on imaging. Having this measure of breast density helps women to weigh it against their other risk factors to determine if further diagnostic testing should be performed. Again this all goes back to early detection as being one of the best ways to prevent death from breast cancer.
Although there is no guarantee that I will never experience recurrence, my cancer was detected early and I was spared a few extra steps in my journey because of that early detection. It is part of why breast cancer awareness especially for pre-menopausal women is so important to me. It is also why I choose to spend my October writing and sharing my heart.
When was the last time you did your self-breast exam, scheduled your mammogram or had that concerning symptom checked by a physician?