Sunday, September 6, 2015

Monday's Inspiration: Larry the Lump Sneaked Past the Mammogram....


 Perhaps 'inspiration' is the wrong title for this blog, but I wanted to get word out about how a clear mammogram doesn't necessarily mean there is no cancer - or early 'in situ' cancer cells. That's not to frighten anyone - but sometimes, a little knowledge can be a lifesaver.

I posted a while ago about Larry the Lump, the nasty little cancer located in my left breast. I was shocked to discover that this had already progressed to Stage Three before I even knew it was there.

"How can this be?" I asked. "I have done mammograms religiously and they've all come back clear, I've done self-exams and it's only been recently that I thought there was a slight thickening. Even my doctor said that if the mammogram didn't show anything, then there was nothing there..."

There's no breast cancer in my family, either. Foolishly I thought there was little chance I would ever develop it. Another myth busted. .

I have a type of cancer called invasive lobular. Seems this is a sneaky beast, a long, thin cancer that doesn't show up on a mammogram.

I had a routine mammogram last September, complained to the tech that I had some 'crinkly' skin on my breast and shooting pains. She said that if the mammogram came back clear and I was still worried, talk to my doctor.

A few weeks later the letter came - the mammogram had shown nothing. All clear.

Gradually I became aware that the wrinkling skin was getting worse, and the pain and aching were still there. So I mentioned this to my doctor when I went for a pap smear (yep, I did all those regular exams!) and she said nothing showed on the mammogram.

Fast forward a few more weeks. The bathroom mirror announced that my nipple was inverted and the wrinkling was worse. Then I felt a slight thickening in my breast. Back this time to see the nurse practitioner, who thought she could maybe feel a slight lump 'and we should get another mammogram'.

Another mammogram, two ultrasounds and a biopsy later, a cancer diagnosis.

Larry the Lump was by this time eight centimeters long. Stage Three.

Pass lumpectomy and go straight to mastectomy.

Invasive lobular breast cancer makes up about 10-15 percent of breast cancers.

It doesn't show up on a mammogram in the earlier stages, if at all.

And it often affects both breasts.

Now, after a whole panoply of tests and biopsies, I'm meeting with the oncology surgeon this week to hear just how drastic the surgery must be.

I'm fortunate to have a lot of support from family and friends, and an oncology doctor who specializes in this kind of cancer,

Plus her first name is 'Angel'. Here's hoping she's my angel :-)

So again, I don't want to frighten anyone, but be pro-active. If you feel something is wrong, do insist on further investigation. My type of cancer needs an MRI to properly diagnose it..

And many, many thanks to all the folks out there who have contacted me with good healing thoughts, prayers for a fast recovery, and comforting and encouraging stories of others who have been through this. Please continue to keep me in your thoughts.

Will keep you posted as to when Larry the Lump is to be evicted the sooner the better!




11 comments:

  1. I'm just glad this gave you enough symptoms for a heads-up. Some cancers are silent even longer. I'd love to say something cheerful and uplifting, but basically cancer stinks. I'll be thinking of you.

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    1. Thank you, Alison. I do feel fortunate to be receiving very good medical care. Because this came as such a shock to me, I wanted other women to know that they should listen to what their bodies are telling them, even though a mammogram might be clear.

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  2. My good thoughts and prayers are with you.

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    1. Thank you, CJ. I really appreciate your good thoughts and prayers. It's been comforting through this to have so many people offer support, and to hear the stories of many women who have already trod this path and come out strong.I hope to be one of them!

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  3. Keeping you in my thoughts, Glenys. Let's hope your "Angel" kicks ass on that damn lump!

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    1. :-) Jannine - I named the lump Larry because of a therapy (can't recall its name) that recommends naming your pain in order to have a conversation with it to discover what your body really needs. You can imagine the kind of little chats I have had with Larry! Angel has a wonderful reputation and also is a research specialist for my particular type of cancer.I truly believe that if anyone can help me deal a knock out blow to Larry, she's the one.

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  4. Sending healing thoughts and prayers, Glenys. I wish a full and complete recovery. You have many more stories to share with us.

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  5. Will send lots of good energy your way, Glenys. I have to second your recommendation. I had my lumpectomy and radiation treatments the first part of this year. Do the mammograms, folks, and push to have more tests done if you feel something is wrong. It's your body.

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  6. Glenys - this is a valuable, informative blog. This is the main reason they call it "the practice" of medicine - it seems it's hard to get everything right a times. Blessings coming your way. YOu sound like a trooper and a fighter - I fell a full recovery and long, long, prosperous life are ahead of you. Thank you for posting this. I am sharing it with all my peeps.

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  7. Glenys, thank you for sharing your story with us. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

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  8. As a 14 year survivor, my advise to you Glenys is STAY POSITIVE. I can't guarantee it helps, but I can assure you in no uncertain terms that a negative attitude will work against you. I would also suggest staying away from reading about cancer on the internet. For every positive thing you read, you'll find a bunch of negative...and they all work against the first suggestion: STAY POSITIVE. Hang around friends and family that cheer you up. Do things that make you happy. I won't tell you that it will be easy (although honestly, my experiences with chemo, lumpectomy and radiation weren't that bad) but I will tell you cancer can be beat! STAY POSITIVE.

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