Detecting Breast Cancer

If you are thinking about skipping your mammogram this year I suggest you don't. Why? Because by the time you can feel a cancerous lump in your breast, the cancer has been in your body for two to five years.

If you are thinking about skipping your mammogram this year I suggest you don’t. Why? Because by the time you can feel a cancerous lump in your breast, the cancer has been in your body for two to five years. I didn’t have a mammogram last year and almost didn’t have one this year. I was just tired of the...
I didn't have a mammogram last year and almost didn't have one this year. I was just tired of the yearly uncomfortable squeezing and mashing of my breasts.

However, when I told my doctor that I would skip the yearly procedure, she asked me about my sister, who had died ten years ago, only days after she was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer on her seventienth birthday.

"Won't you be turning seventy? she asked. It sounded odd to me because I don't feel seventy. Actually, I have been working on a story for my seventieth birthday called "Age is Just a Number."

The morning I was supposed to go in for the mammogram, I received a call saying my brother had died during the night in his sleep of COPD, a lung disease that blocks airflow and makes it difficult to breathe.

I was upset and decided to cancel the mammogram, but my husband insisted I keep the appointment.

I was asked if I wanted the 3-D mammogram instead of the usual 2-D mammogram. The 3-D Mammogram creates a 3D image of the breast, which has been shown to improve breast cancer detection by 27-50%.

Not all insurance will pay for it so the patient is informed that they will submit the claim but the patient may have to pay for the additional cost, which is not much and worth it.

I started to say no but changed my mind and said yes.

After the mammogram, the technician said, "Hmmm, I think I see something new," I brushed it off and said it was probably scar tissue. I had a previous biopsy for what turned out to be a benign tumor a few months after my sister died.

While we were out of town for my brother's funeral, the doctor's office called three times but didn't leave a message. I subconsciously knew that wasn't good, but I had so much more to think about. My brother was the last of my ten siblings. He was divorced and had not been close to his children, so I wanted to help with the final arrangements.

When I got home, the doctor's office called to set up an appointment.

There was a lump, and they wanted to biopsy it. I had done self-examinations but had not felt a lump in my breast.

And that's the thing we don't realize. It can seem like a lump appeared out of nowhere–especially if you or your doctor have recently examined your breasts and not felt anything suspicious–but in reality, the cancer has simply doubled that one last time necessary to be noticeable.

Breast cancer, like most cancers, begins as one malignant cell, which then divides and becomes two bad cells, which divide again and become four bad cells, and so on. It has to divide 30 times before it can be felt.

Up to the 28th cell division, neither you nor your doctor can detect it by hand. With most breast cancers, each division takes one to two months, so by the time you feel it has probably been in your breast for two to five years.

Mammograms are important for all menopausal women to get regular mammograms. It is true that not all breast cancers can be diagnosed through a mammogram, but it is our best defense against breast cancer because it can detect the disease in its early stages, before it can be felt during a breast exam.

Ten days later I had a breast biopsy procedure under local anesthesia to remove a small sample of my breast tissue for laboratory tests.

When my husband and I went in for the follow-up results, my doctor wanted to examine the incision, where I had a breast biopsy.

She said the biopsy site looked good. After she asked me how I was doing, she said, "Unfortunately I have some bad news. The biopsy results are positive for a malignant tumor in your breast. "

My thoughts went back ten years earlier, when a doctor in Georgia said to my sister's family and me, "Unfortunately, she has cancer that has metastasized from her breast to her lungs and liver."

After a few moments, I realized that my doctor was still talking. Suddenly, I needed to take the mask I had worn into the office off to breathe.

If you are thinking about skipping your mammogram this year I suggest you don’t. Why? Because by the time you can feel a cancerous lump in your breast, the cancer has been in your body for two to five years. I didn’t have a mammogram last year and almost didn’t have one this year. I was just tired of the...My husband and I were stunned. "However, fortunately, it is a very small Ductal Carcinoma that does not appear to be invasive. I think we can remove all of the tumor in one surgery."

I had to wait another ten days for a surgical lumpectomy to remove the malignant tumor. At first, I couldn't say I had breast cancer. I just said I had a tumor in my breast, but there was a very still moment when I stopped and said, "I have breast cancer."

I began to think about all the people I know who have cancer. I have stood beside them, prayed for them, comforted, and encouraged them as family, a friend, nurse, and a pastor's wife, but I never truly understood how they felt when their doctor said, "Unfortunately, you have cancer."

Until now.

To be continued…

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Deana Landers
Author for

I have had many roles in life
Pastor’s Wife , Mom/Nana , Nurse/Health Educator, Writer , Christian Speaker
I can't remember a time when I wasn't writing stories, either in my head or in my journal.

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Story Comments

  1. I'm wishing you luck and saying prayers. My sister was diagnosed 10 years ago and then about 4 years ago found she had it in her leg. She's doing well right now. She just turned 50. It's never too early to get tested.

    • Deana Landers -

      Thank you, Doreen, for reading and commenting on my story.Deana

  2. So sorry to hear about your diagnosis and your brother's death. I have walked side by side with dear friends that have also received the diagnosis, but like you said that's different. Thank you for being an encourager for others to take mammograms seriously while dealing with this yourself. <3Melanie

    • Deana Landers -

      Thank you so much, Melanie, for reading and commenting on my story. It is so good to have a friend to walk with in times like these. Deana

    • Deana Landers -

      Thank you, Melanie. I appreciate your comment.Deana

  3. I've been thinking about you soooo much Deana. I'm sorry for your loss and all the stress you must have been going through these last few weeks. You're always in my prayers <3

    • Deana Landers -

      Thank you, Michelle. Love ya,Deana

  4. Maria -

    I’m so glad you caught in time! I had the same 3 d done this year! I’ll be praying for you friend

    • Deana Landers -

      Thank you, Maria. I think the 3D is a better mammogram. I'm glad they caught it too.Deana

  5. So sorry to hear about your diagnosis, but it is good that you got to it early. Wishing you a speedy recovery, You go this as my mom always said after her diagnosis. Thanks for sharing your story.

    • Deana Landers -

      Your mom's right, Anita. I got this! Thank you, dear friendDeana

  6. Diane -

    Aunt Deana, I’m so glad that you went when you did and had the 3D imaging done. I too have the 3D done when I go. I know I don’t see you very much but I love you more than you know and I don’t want anything to happen to you. I have an appt on the 12th for my exam. I always go with my fingers crossed!! ❤️❤️❤️❤️

    • Deana Landers -

      Thank you, Diane. It is a good thing that they found it early. I'm trusting God and doing what I need to do. I love you, too, Diane, very much.Love ya,

  7. You are in my prayers sweet Deana. I can't imagine the scary thoughts you must have encountered. Thinking of you!!

    • Deana Landers -

      Thank you so much, LoriDeana

  8. How ironic that all the forces in the universe came together to allow you to reach an early diagnosis. Such shocking news but you are handling it with courage and grace. You are always in my thoughts and prayers Deana; I wish you a speedy recovery.

    • Deana Landers -

      Sara, thank you so much. Deana

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