"V" is for Val's Victory!
At 46 years old, I found a lump on my right breast while bending over to wash my feet in the shower. It was Friday, May 6, 2011. I immediately called my doctor to get an appointment for the following Monday.
On Monday, I saw my doc. Tuesday, I had a mammogram/sonogram. My scans both appeared like “normal fibrocystic dense breast tissue.” I was told to return in a year. ALERT! This is NOT normal for me! I asked questions! Thankfully the radiologist listened. She did a physical exam and repeated the sonogram. Still, nothing showed up. She said “These tests are not always 100%. Let’s do a needle biopsy.” On Friday the 13th, I had a needle biopsy which showed Stage IIB invasive ductal carcinoma. An MRI showed lymph node involvement. Six chemo treatments, a bilateral mastectomy, and 25 radiation treatments later, I am on a mission to share my story so other women listen to their bodies and seek the answers they may not want to hear.
I started this journey on a Friday the 13th in May and finished my radiation on Friday the 13th the following January. So now “Friday the 13th” is a LUCKY day for me…my cancer-free day!
I encourage women to bend over while doing their self breast exams in the shower, because I wouldn’t have found my lump otherwise. I also want to advocate for all diagnostic mammograms and sonograms to include a physical exam by the radiologist. I have found a voice since my diagnosis. I hope I can share it and cause more women to be their own advocates!