by Liz Martinez
I know better than anyone how a busy life can make it difficult to make time for yourself—especially when it comes to going to the doctor. I mean, who likes going to the doctor anyway?
However, since age 40 I always got my annual mammograms. My sister had a lump a couple of years ago and I was aware of how an early diagnosis could make the difference between a health scare and a life-threatening situation. But even still, I missed my annual visit in 2014. I had a busy year and just simply forgot.
One Year Missed and…
In May 2015 I went to the doctor complaining of severe back pain that wasn’t going away. I had tried, massages, muscle relaxants, NSAIDs, but nothing was helping. The pain seemed to be getting worse. (I even chalked it up to job stress.)
My doctor and I agreed the pain was getting worse and some tests were in order. We began with EKG and Xrays. (It didn’t feel like anything to do with my heart, but whatever.) The Xray led to a Cat Scan. In the Cat Scan the doctor saw “something”. It realized my pain was caused by stress fractures in my spine (most common in menopausal women with osteoporosis), but he also some something else.
I wasn’t given much information, but I knew something was wrong because they wanted to admit me to the hospital for more tests. Next was an MRI and that’s where they saw what they were now calling a mass of some sort (still vague). Finally, a biopsy and the bad news—I had a malignant tumor and cancer in the bones in my spine.
What I learned next was so surprising. I was sent for a mammogram because they believed the cancer had originated in my breasts. This turned out to be true. Very obvious in the mammogram and ultrasound pictures was a mass all over.
So now I learned my diagnosis—I had Metastatic Breast Cancer which had spread to my bones and created a malignant tumor in my spine too.
If I had a mammogram last year, they would have caught the breast cancer early enough to do a lumpectomy, radiation or mastectomy and possibly removed/cured the cancer. But now it was too late, in the past year without knowing, the breast cancer had spread and now I was Stage IV and incurable.
If I had a mammogram last year, I would have a 90% or better chance of cure/survival. Now I have a 10% chance that I’ll live more than 5 years.
A year made all the difference!
Please ladies—Don’t skip your annual mammogram. Gentlemen—Ask the women in your life to get checked.
MORE INFORMATION ON METASTATIC BREAST CANCER: