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!