For the next month or so be prepared to have your senses flooded with cancer statistics, cancer stories, cancer products, and the color pink. I can barely watch television I get so sick of it. I don’t look at magazines because there is page after page of pink shit.
I know that this whole campaign started with good intentions. It was started to help the public become more aware. People were dying because they didn’t have all the facts. I appreciate that. Many appreciate the energy and work that goes into such a campaign. But, the campaign needs to change. They need to bellow out a new aria to the world.
When I was diagnosed the lump in my breast had been there for a year and a half. For a year and a half I HAD to keep going back to the doctors saying ” it is still there, what can we do.” And their reply was ” it’s nothing, it’s so small, let’s watch it .”
I noticed the lump in January of 2002 after I had helped my son move. When I was showering, isn’t that when it is often found, I noticed a tender little lump in my right breast. I thought somehow I had hurt myself moving furniture so, a couple of months went by before I went to my doctor for evaluation.
We did a mammogram and an ultrasound. There was a tiny lump there. They said to “watch it.” Now, should I have insisted on it’s removal right then. Maybe. Probably. But, like so many when I am in the presence of a doctor I am intimidated and defer to their great wealth of knowledge. What did I know about lumps? Nothing. And the word cancer was terrifying so I listened and “watched it.”
For all those out there who are fortunate enough not to know what I am about to say, you are the lucky ones. But to the rest, you know that once you find a lump, bump or other foreign thing in your body you ” watch it” constantly. No one has to tell you, it never leaves your mind that there is something there. Your hand wanders to that spot time and time again, hoping and praying that it will be gone.
I never felt right after I found that dam lump. There was a layer of constant anxiety rising to the surface at odd times throughout my day. I was ever on the alert to “it” changing. I kept going back as ” they” recommended for follow up ultrasounds to “watch it.”
Before this little crisis I had decided to go back to school to get my degree in nursing. After more then a year of ” watching it” I decided to go see a breast specialist at one of the top breast specialty facilities in Kansas City so I could put this to rest once and for all.
She was horrible. Horrible in that she belittled me saying ” what are they watching this for, what do they do in Manhattan, why are they watching this.” I mentioned that it was tender, and she said ” breast cancer isn’t painful, that’s why people find it when they do, they just come across it, it’s not painful.”
Her speech was rapid and pressured as if she was in a great hurry. After all she was a very important breast specialist. I sat there like a deer in the headlights waiting to see what she would suggest. She told me that she could traumatize my body, her words I swear, to take it out, but if she was me she would just go on to school. I had shared my goal of quitting my job of 21 years to go back to school, and she said ” yes, go to school, it is nothing, nothing.” I told her I didn’t want her to traumatize my body if there was no need, and she said ” go to school, everything will be fine, it is nothing, nothing.” After that comment she shook my hand and left.
I saw this horrible doctor in November of 2003 then quit my job and started school the spring semester in 2004. I made it through the spring semester, took 9 hours in the summer, went on a short vacation to see my son in Colorado, and was diagnosed in August one week into the fall semester.
I had noticed “it” had become more painful earlier in that summer. And it felt a little larger to my touch. So, when I returned from vacation I called the radiologist and went back for another ultrasound. He said it was larger and recommended a biopsy right away.I was elated, finally someone would do something. When I asked who would do this he said ” I will.” and scheduled it two days later. Now let me add here that after that whole year and a half of following this thing I was amazed that the radiologist could do the biopsy. My one big silent question was ” why didn’t he say something sooner.” Dam it…I got the diagnosis the fall semester of 2004.
I would really like to know how many people out there have been told to “watch it.” and later was diagnosed with cancer. I can tell you for sure that no one has ever done a study with those parameters. It would only reflect badly. How many of you have been told to “watch and wait?” I know seven people personally, personally who had lumps in their breast and were told to ” watch it” and then had to go through horrendous treatment a year or two later.
The breast cancer I had was ductal carcinoma in situ. The in situ means that it had moved out of the duct into the tissue. All I could think of when I heard that term was “those f–kers” it had moved, it had spread.
The point behind this is to say DON’T WATCH IT. DON’T WAIT. Make them do a biopsy, make them take it out. If it is a tiny thing, if it is “nothing” let them take it out and prove it. Don’t wait until it spreads, moves out of it’s home port, TAKE ACTION NOW.
And that is why all this awareness crap sets me off. It isn’t about awareness. We are all aware that cancer kills, but do you know that cancer sometimes kills because we didn’t take action right away. I would really like to have a statistic to throw out there of those who missed starting treatment because they “watched it.” I am sure that is a study that will never get done.
Had I been more assertive and had my doctors been more aggressive ( I felt they didn’t really care ) maybe the ductal carcinoma would not have been in situ, but instead just in the duct which would have changed the whole treatment program.
We must TAKE ACTION when our health and well being are involved. It would be nice to sit back and let someone else decide things, but we have to push the fear away and do something.
Let’s start a new campaign, change the color to gold or something, we need a different color to motivate people. It needs to be a powerful color. Somethings that tells us to just do it, TAKE ACTION NOW, forget the awareness part. It needs to be a TAKE ACTION NOW campaign. Take action against any type of cancer….they all kill.