At the young age of 31, I felt a lump. I was sitting at my mother's dining room table, when she encouraged me to do a breast exam. The next morning, I scheduled an apppointment with my OB/GYN. When I met with my doctor and shared my concern over this lump, she said I may have been overreacting because I had just been the caregiver to my mother who had brain cancer. It was my persistance and advocacy that allowed me to insist she order a mammogram.
Her response, with attitude: "I will order the mammogram, but you are going to see that is probably just a fibroadenoma, because you are really too young to have breast cancer."
On the ride home, while talking to my husband, I remembered feeling overwhelemd. Was I overreacting? Should I even schedule this mammogram? I knew that it was my choice to make. My choice to call my doctor when I found my lump, my choice to ask for the mammogram and now my choice to schedule the appointment.
The following week, I had that mammogram and an immediate ultrasound. That lump was 8 mm and was "suspicous" enough to pursue the ultrasound and a biopsy.
Ten days later, I heard those dreaded words: "You have cancer."
The new American Cancer Society breast screening guidelines
are completely ridiculous, in my opinion. It is a woman's choice to advocate for themselves, while assessing the risk for these types of tests that are available.
"The American Cancer Society made the value judgment that screening is only worth it if improves survival," Marisa Weiss, a breast cancer survivor and president of Breastcancer.org, told CNN
. "There's an arrogance to that. Let women decide what's meaningful to them."
We have wonderful technologies to screen for fatal diseases, but it is disheartening to know that we have three cancer organizations with different recommendations about best use of these technologies.
Don't you think it should be a woman's choice to make? Why do we need someone to tell us
when to screen for a mammogram in the first place? My story is one of many who advocated. I am glad to use my voice to empower, inspire and educate other women.
To gain insight into these updated guidelines, CURE spoke with our editor-in-chief, Debu Tripathy, who is also the chair of the Department of Breast Medical Oncology at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.