Who walks around smiling after they’ve discovered a lump in their breast? I did – for over a year after turning 40. The feeling was uncanny, and then the helplessness set in. Is this what I had to look forward to with aging? What was I to do? I had lost my insurance coverage when my company closed out our division. Otherwise, I would’ve gone in for a checkup immediately. But, to be honest, I couldn’t afford to spend anything extra on speculation, so I waited to see if any change came about.
That’s when I started to gain weight; I wasn’t just bloated, my skin texture changed and my hair was thinning. Were these symptoms or was I stressing out over nothing? I hadn’t gone to the doctor in over a year, and asked myself, “Would this be my nemesis – breast cancer?”
Talk about emotional. I found I was becoming enraged, as well. For the past five years, when I had insurance, they had been telling me that I was too young, I was perfectly healthy, and there was no need for a mammogram. Although younger than most, I had not put it out of my mind that I had surpassed one of my grandmothers, who had passed at 35 from breast cancer. Of course, that made my risk higher than most. Even with this family history, I felt it wasn’t taken into serious consideration, because I wasn’t older. But I put my trust in those choosing my treatments, back then.
Had I spoken up sooner, would I be in a better frame of mind? I was left speculating all the while, doing self-exams I had learned and heard were important, regardless of what other doctors had been telling me. By watching Dr. Oz on Oprah for years, I recalled him saying something like, “Pay extra close attention, write down your questions, and be your own best advocate when it comes to your health.” I just never thought that I would be using this advice on myself anytime in the near future.