Why Should You Care About Breast Cancer Awareness Month?

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You may notice me wearing a lot of pink this month. You have probably heard that it is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Maybe you know someone whose life has been impacted by breast cancer, or perhaps your own life has been threatened by this disease. 

40,000 women and approximately 390 men will die this year from breast cancer. Cancer does not discriminate. It could be someone you know. It could be you. I hope it’s not. 

A couple years ago I found a lump. That was a scary moment, and it was even scarier for me because I did not have health insurance. I called my doctor and made an appointment, knowing that paying for the office visit wasn’t going to be easy as a struggling college student. I also knew that if I had breast cancer, waiting would be far worse than scraping together the money to pay for the appointment. 

Upon feeling the lump my doctor became quite serious, and immediately scheduled me for a mammogram and sonogram. I felt a huge rush of emotions, fear for my life, and trepidation over what would happen to me if I had cancer. How could I pay for the mammogram, let alone treatments if I had the disease? 

My doctor talked to me about a voucher program available for those who are uninsured or under-insured. I was able to get a voucher so that I didn’t have to pay for my mammogram and sonogram. I have “dense” breasts, which means that they are made up of more connective tissue than fat. That makes reading a mammogram more difficult because connective tissue and tumors both show up as a white area on mammograms. Fatty tissue shows up as grey on the images, and is easier to see through. 

The doctor who performed the sonogram determined that I needed to have an immediate biopsy to diagnose the lump. The day that I went in for my biopsy my dog passed away from cancer, and it felt like my world was crashing down around me. Although I knew statistics were on my side it was one of the scariest moments of my life. I wasn’t afraid of the biopsy. I was afraid of the results.

I had done all of my research. I knew all of the stats. Even though we were just in the exploratory phases of diagnosis I experienced a feeling that my body had turned against me. I felt depressed, overwhelmed, terrified, and angry. I wasn’t my normal energetic self. I didn’t want to go outside and run with Jesse. I wanted to go to sleep and not have to worry or think about the big C word anymore. I knew that if I had cancer I would fight. Even though Jesse and I weren’t married yet, I knew he would love me and be there for me no matter what, but all I wanted was to be okay. 
They called me very quickly with the results. 

I can’t describe the relief that washed over me when they said I didn’t have cancer. I have to go back to get examined every year. I also continue to do self-exams. 

I share my story in the hopes that it will raise awareness. We need to find a cure for this deadly disease. You can donate to Susan G. Komen for the Cure if you would like to help find a cure for breast cancer, and continue to help women in need receive mammograms that can save their lives. You can wear pink to show that you support the cause. You can go to Komen.org and find a Race for the Cure to run. You can have a Passionately Pink Party/Fundraiser and donate the proceeds to help find a cure. 

If you are doing something for Breast Cancer Awareness Month I would love to hear about it. Feel free to share your story. 

Have a good night, 
Melissa


5 thoughts on “Why Should You Care About Breast Cancer Awareness Month?

  1. Anonymous

    My story seems to be very similar to yours, Melissa. I was 18, a senior in high school and I found 2 lumps in my right breast. Immediately, I was scared! My fathers mother passed away for breast cancer. While I never had a mammogram, I did have a few ultrasounds. I had some biopsies done and they came back benign. But for how long would they stay that way? I was young and scared so I decided to get a lumpectomy. Everything went very well with that surgery. About 3 years after that, both breast became FULL of lumps. Some were so big that they would stick out from the skin. It looked like I have a ping pong ball under my skin. They were painful and ugly. I didn’t want to have another lumpectomy surgery because I didn’t want to be completely covered in scars and I didn’t want to do it and have them just come right back. At the age of 24, I had a HUGE decision to make. I had a bilateral complete mastectomy. I am so glad to know that I can never get breast cancer! I am a huge supporter of Breast Cancer Awareness, more now than before.

    • Thank you for sharing your story! That is a huge decision, but I am so glad that you don’t have to live in fear. 🙂 It sounds like you definitely made the decision that was right for you.

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