Wednesday, July 25, 2007

A Serious Matter

I am not posting a funny story about Ben today, or any sentimental ramblings about Clara. I won't be talking about Allie, and how she wears her heart on her sleeve, or about Brandon and the trials of raising a teenage boy. Today I want to talk about a friend of mine.

I don't actually know her, we have never met. We've never even had a conversation. But she is blogging mother, like me. She has a baby and a toddler which I certainly know all about. She's 34, so close to my own age. And just a few short weeks ago she was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer. Today, I am posting a note from her. It's her hearts desire that people become more aware of this much unheard of form of cancer. I encourage you to read it, to take it seriously, to visit her Why Mommy Blog and read about her experiences, and to pray for her as she goes through this journey.

We hear a lot about breast cancer these days. One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetimes, and there are millions living with it in the U.S. today alone. But did you know that there is more than one type of breast cancer?
I didn’t. I thought that breast cancer was all the same. I figured that if I did my
monthly breast self-exams
, and found no lump, I’d be fine.
Oops. It turns out that you don’t have to have a lump to have breast cancer. Six weeks ago, I went to my OB/GYN because my breast felt funny. It was red, hot, inflamed, and the skin looked…funny. But there was no lump, so I wasn’t worried. I should have been. After a round of antibiotics didn’t clear up the inflammation, my doctor sent me to a breast specialist and did a skin punch biopsy. That test showed that I have inflammatory breast cancer, a very aggressive cancer that can be deadly.
Inflammatory breast cancer is often misdiagnosed as mastitis because many doctors have never seen it before and consider it rare. “Rare” or not, there are over 100,000 women in the U.S. with this cancer right now; only half will survive five years. Please call your OB/GYN if you experience several of the following symptoms in your breast, or any unusual changes: redness, rapid increase in size of one breast, persistent itching of breast or nipple, thickening of breast tissue, stabbing pain, soreness, swelling under the arm, dimpling or ridging (for example, when you take your bra off, the bra marks stay – for a while), flattening or retracting of the nipple, or a texture that looks or feels like an orange (called peau d’orange). Ask if your GYN is familiar with inflammatory breast cancer, and tell her that you’re concerned and want to come in to rule it out.
There is more than one kind of breast cancer. Inflammatory breast cancer is the
most aggressive form of breast cancer o
ut there, and early detection is critical. It’s not usually detected by mammogram. It does not usually present with a lump. It may be overlooked with all of the changes that our breasts undergo during the years when we’re pregnant and/or nursing our little ones. It’s important not to miss this one.
Inflammatory breast cancer is detected by women and their doctors who notice a change in one of their breasts. If you notice a change, call your doctor today. Tell her about it. Tell her that you have a friend with this disease, and it’s trying to kill her. Now you know what I wish I had known before six weeks ago.
You don’t have to have a lump to have breast cancer.

We are lifting you up.


Kyla said...

Thanks for posting this. It is so scary that so few people know about it.

slouching mom said...

Thank you for spreading the word, Joy. You're right -- we will lift WhyMommy up.

(BTW, I've tagged you.)

Lori said...

Thank you so much for posting this. I feel far better informed than I did even five minutes ago. I only wish this information wasn't coming at such a horrible cost to someone else. It makes me so sad.

Jenn said...

We are all lifting her up...together, hopefully straight to the sun and away from all of this dark stuff.

Christine said...

you are so wonderful to post this! i sent her post out to my friends via email.

you are wonderful, joy.

modmom said...

thanks for spreading the word!