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  • 2010 December 17
    From the daily archives: Friday, December 17, 2010

    I feel very reassured after seeing the surgeon, and full of questions as well. I learned some very interesting things.

    He assured me that the types of discomforts I’ve had are quite normal for someone like me, just in the early years of menopause. He clarified that yes, my odds of developing a cancer in my other breast are somewhat higher than someone else’s, but he expressed confidence that such a thing would not sneak up on me. We are being super vigilant, and anything that appeared would be caught immediately. It is also more likely that if I developed a new cancer it would be hormone responsive. IBC is less likely to hit my right breast and more likely, if it were to recur, to show up metastatic.

    In his experience, IBC is a pathological development that occurs when there is an existing breast cancer that has not been discovered. Sometimes this is referred to as the primary neglected cancer. That doesn’t mean it shows up on a mammogram. Often it does not, because it develops in nests or sheets. That doesn’t mean they are not already there before the inflammatory component appears.

    The tough truth I live with is that I had been remiss on my mammograms. I was overdue. It is also true that there was a lump, which I had not felt but my boyfriend had. He had been feeling it for two months and hadn’t told me, because “I figured you knew about it”. He felt terrible about it when he told me. I was angry. Yet, in all fairness, why would I not know about my own breast? Yet, many women don’t. A large proportion of breast cancers are caught by boyfriends and husbands.

    My cancer was Invasive Ductal Carcinoma, the most common cell type of breast cancer. If it had been caught early, it is the most curable. I will never know if my Inflammatory Breast Cancer was the “sleeper” kind that hides until it erupts, or just a neglected cancer that could have been dealt with.

    What I came away with this morning was relief that I will not be having any more surgery, confident that anything that shows up in my beloved and appreciated right breast will be dealt with quickly, and even more determination to get the 40% of women who don’t get mammograms to do it.

    And yes, check out your own breasts! I’m doing that now, even though I have faith that my husband will tell me if he notices anything. After all, it is mine, and the responsibility is mine.

    And, a reminder from Gaga for Ta-ta’s from Susan Komen for the cure:

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