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Yearly Mammogram

Here is a tip from the heart and from a recent experience.

Being a retired registered nurse I realize the importance of having (among other things) a yearly mammogram. Every year I have one. Well my last one showed some calcified density changes. I was told that this could be because of age changes but to be on the safe side that I should have another one in 6 months. And so in 6 months I had another mammogram which showed that the calcifications had increased and clustered. I then spoke to the radiologist who suggested that I should have a breast biopsy as 80% of the time the changes are age related but 20% of the time it is breast cancer. I then immediately had a consultation with a breast surgeon. She explained what the biopsy would entail and answered the few questions I had, few I say as I was so stunned that I really didn't have much time at that moment to think about many questions. I think I was in shock.

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Arrangements were made to have the biopsy and the report came back showing that I had DCIS. That stands for ductile carcinoma in situ and means that the cancer was confined to the breast ducts and was non-invasive. As my surgeon said to me, "if you're going to have breast cancer, this is the type to have as it's treatable and curable". I then went to surgery and had a lumpectomy and the results came back showing the the margins were not clear. Clear margins are necessary to have a curable area. And so I had to go back to surgery and have a re-excision of the same surgical procedure and yes, my margins came back clear.

After a few weeks of healing I had to go to radiation 5 days a week for 7 weeks and I started taking tamoxifen which I will continue taking for a total of 5 years. I am very thankful that I had a knowledgeable radiologist, a great breast surgeon and oncologist as well as a great team in the radiation department. I had always done a monthly manual exam of my breasts, had a yearly manual exam by my physician and a yearly mammogram. My breast surgeon told me that since the tumor was so small that it would probably take about 5 more years to feel it if I had not been fortunate to have the mammogram pick it up. By then it may have become invasive and I would not have been so lucky.

Yesterday I went for my follow up to my breast surgeon and got a clean bill of health. I no longer have breast cancer and am a survivor but only because of being disciplined to have a yearly mammogram and because the results of the mammogram were implemented.

Please, please, please I encourage each and every one of you females to make sure you treat yourself well and have a mammogram each and every year. It will not only be a gift to you but to your family. Men also can and do get breast cancer but percentage wise less than women.

I hope this information that I have shared with you will help you all and this is my gift to you today.

By joesgirl

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October 25, 20040 found this helpful

Congratulations! We are a great group of women, we survivors. May you continue to be clear. For me it's over 20 years now. Be well.

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October 25, 20040 found this helpful

Thank you for sharing your story and wisdom Joesgirl. We appreciate it and best wishes for a long life and your continued good health.

Susan at ThriftyFun

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October 25, 20040 found this helpful

Thank you Joesgirl. I am an RN, who has been putting off a mammogram for 3 years, (since I turned 50 when they are recommended in Australia bi-annually if you have no family history). Your tale has prompted me to stop procrastinating and actually get it done this year - being in a country area I have to wait until the mobile clinic calls in my district. Also, while I have the opportunity, thanks for all your great practical tips - Joe must be a lucky man!

Regards

Jo

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October 25, 20040 found this helpful

So glad you got a clean bill of health from your breast surgeon. I don't think I could live without all your fabulous tips!

Best wishes,

Kathy

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