Shauna Wears Pink

I will never forget the day my doctor uttered those horrifying words “I am sorry to tell you, but that is a cancer tumor that you have in your left breast”. I was 33 years old, and my life changed forever. I invite you to read my story, learn from it and hopefully be inspired to reach out to other young women living with and beyond breast cancer.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Feel Your Boobies!

Recently through the young survivor group that I co-founded, I met another survivor whose breast cancer story runs parallel to mine through time, but unlike mine does not have a happy ending. Like me she gave birth to a beautiful baby 3 and half years ago. Like me she found a lump in her left breast while she was breast feeding her beautiful baby. Like me she went to her OBGYN for advice and was referred for a mammogram and ultra sound. That is where our stories diverge. The results of my ultrasound where very suspicion, so I went to a breast surgeon and was diagnosed with what turned out to be stage II breast cancer through a core biopsy of my breast (which left I pretty significant hole in my breast). My fellow survivor also went to a breast surgeon, but for some reason did not do a biopsy of the lump and was sent away with a “lets keep an eye on it” recommendation. During the same year that I underwent chemotherapy to blast the cancer out of every nook and cranny of my body, her cancer grew unchecked into stage IV cancer, metastasizing to her spine, shoulders, hips, liver and lungs. She was not diagnosed until she finally collapsed from the pain of the crushed vertebra that had been eaten away by the cancer in her spine. Breast cancer, unlike other cancers, cannot be truly cured once it has metastasized to other parts of the body. And even when the cancer is caught early before it has spread beyond the breast, breast cancer patients are never considered cured because it can always come back as metastatic cancer in another part of your body. Major advances have been made in medicines that can help keep the cancer at bay for long periods of time (even years), but eventually metastatic breast cancer is usually terminal. So while I will hopefully go on to live a long and healthy life and see my baby boy graduate from college, my fellow survivor will probably die from her breast cancer and leave her young child without a mother. So my message to everyone is one of vigilance. You, and only you, are responsible for your body and your health. When you feel something suspicious, get a mammogram, an MRI, a CT scan, a biopsy or whatever else it takes to get an answer as to exactly what that lump is in your breast. And don’t ever take no for an answer. If one doctor blows you off, find another. I have a number of T-shirts and stickers that I wear in public that say “Feel Your Boobies”. These usually attract a lot of attention, but the message on my T-shirt is deadly serious! Feel Your Boobies every day if that is what it takes. If you don’t want to feel them yourself than have your boyfriend, husband or lover do it for you. And if you find a lump, for God’s sake go find out what it is!!


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