This past week I found a lump. I'm 29 and I felt something strange. My grandmother had breast cancer so my mother and I have tried to stay on top of watching ourselves very closely. So I went into my doctor's office to double check. She said it didn't feel like anything but due to my family history, it was time to start talking about baseline mammograms to watch for them. It made me think of Angelina Jolie-Pitt's story, she tested positive for the BRCA1 gene and her mother, grandmother, and aunt all had cancer, so she took steps in the prevention early on. This was my way of getting the procedures on my radar and preparing myself. I know it seems morbid, but for some reason, I have always thought that I would end up with cancer. So I was nervous going into my first mammogram. To say the least.
I texted my Mom and she gave me a laugh about how it's much easier for large breasted women to have mammograms. When I arrived my nerves started getting the best of me. What if I'm one of the statistical anomalies? I've heard and read the stories of others that are young and find cancer.
While I was at the imaging center they actually decided that I only needed to have an ultrasound first to look around and then they would decide on the mammogram. They explained to me that women under 30 have thicker (or denser) breast tissue compared to older women. This denser tissue makes it harder for a mammogram to “see” through the breast. With an ultrasound, you get a better look. So they looked around the area that I felt something and brought in a radiologist, just to double check, and found that it just looked like fibrous tissue. They explained to me that I just need to become familiar with the lumps and bumps in my breasts so that if and when something develops, I'll know by touch.
They also told me to find out the age of each member of my family when they were diagnosed with cancer. The general rule is that you should start getting scanned on a regular basis 10 years prior to that age. That would set your baseline mammogram to go off of for the future.
Just because I'm in the clear for now, doesn't mean I'm not still actively aware of my breast cancer risks. Which is why I registered to walk in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day in Atlanta in October as a 3-day blogger. I'll be walking 60 miles with fellow cancer survivors, surviving family members, and supporters that want a cure as much as I do. I'm doing something huge.
I'm nervous, I've never walked that far in my life. I'm proud, to be helping raise funds for research. My goal is to raise $2,300 by October. Will you help me? With words of encouragement. Will you walk with me? In spirit or physically by my side? Will you help by donating? Even a little helps in a big way.