"I'm not sure exactly how to say this, but I have breast cancer." My best friend of 25+ years said that to me a couple months ago over the phone. I sat there, with the phone in my hand, completely unsure of what to say in return. It is probably the last thing I expected her to say when I picked up the phone. I mean, I know people get breast cancer every day, I know plenty of people it's happened to unfortunately. But something about it being this girl I've known since kindergarten really shook me.
She has no risk factors- no family history of breast cancer, she doesn't smoke, she breastfed both her kids, she's in her early 30's, she exercises daily and eats healthy. And it still happened to her. How?? It just goes to show that this disease doesn't care who you are. Cancer is a bitch and she takes no prisoners.
Why am I telling you this? Because I want you to be aware that it can happen to you, or to someone you love. My friend found the lump when she brushed against it in the shower. It was near the surface so it was easily felt. She then did a self breast exam and realized it didn't feel like the other breast. So she decided to get it checked out, completely not expecting the results. I'll be the first to admit, I don't do self breast exams nearly as often as I should, most of the time figuring that I'm too young for it to happen to me. The day she told me, I made a promise to myself that all of that was going to change. I was going to make sure that self breast exams became a part of my routine. I also plan to schedule my first mammogram this year. I do have a family history of breast cancer - my maternal grandmother died of the disease. Granted, she was 90 when she passed away, but there is no reason to take chances.
And I want you to know that it can happen to you, too. So make a promise with all of your best friends that you're going to start doing self exams. Keep each other in check. Make it common. Because I don't want you to get that same phone call I did, and I don't want you to have to go through what she has had to go through either.
My friend was diagnosed as Stage 1, she caught it early, thankfully. She recently had a lumpectomy which went very well and because of the low risk of recurrence she does not have to have chemo like originally thought. She will be going through radiation, however. She did learn though that because of her type of breast cancer, getting pregnant again would be very dangerous, so she's now started the process of freezing her eggs so that her and her husband can further expand their family one day with the help of a surrogate.
In This Post: Photo by Veronika Sulinska