Monday, I attended a very special ladies luncheon hosted by The Moms, Denise Albert and Melissa Gerstein, and MARTINI Sparkling Wine. Kristin Chenoweth, a daughter of a breast cancer survivor, spoke of her experience as she helped her mother battle breast cancer. Survivors Dr. Elizabeth Thompson, MD, Debbi Musen, and Dee Dee Ricks also told of their experience.
Just three years ago, my best friend, Philice, was bugging me to have a mammogram. I kept putting it off because I thought that was something for older women and I felt great. Why should I bother putting my "boobs on the shelf" as my mother used to say. But, she would not let up until I made an appointment. So, I went and I waited and waited until it was my turn. They squooshed my boobs every which way and then told me to wait outside.
Finally, the technician asked me to come back in because they needed another picture. My cheeks turned red, I became nauseous, and all of a sudden I realized that I was vulnerable just like every other woman. After the mammogram was done, I was taken in for a sonogram and they found a lump. The doctor assured me it did not look malignant but it was two centimetres and I needed a biopsy. So, I went home, looked at my then six-year-old girl and eight-year-old boy, and wondered what would happen if I got sick.
Two weeks later, I had the biopsy and it was not cancerous but would need to be removed surgically because it was growing and pressing on the nerve. I was lucky. The surgery went without a hitch, I did not have cancer, just a sore breast and a small scar. But, I felt pretty bad afterwards and wondered how terrible women must feel when an entire breast is removed.
Recently, I met Dr. Elizabeth Thompson, a speaker at Monday's event. After her double mastectomy she put together the Bffl bag. This is a wonderful gift with everything a patient could need after surgery to help them feel better after the traumatic and painful experience of losing a breast.
Dee Dee Ricks used her experience as a breast cancer patient to raise money to help uninsured women get mammograms and proper treatment for breast cancer. Through her documentary, she has shed light on the lack of care women face because they do not have the money or insurance to receive treatment.
Debbi Musen, my dear friend Melissa's mom, also shared her story of being diagnosed with breast cancer and how she has worked to raise money for both breast cancer awareness and research.
When I sat at that luncheon, I realized how fortunate I was to have dodged this bullet. But, I also knew the fear these women felt for themselves and their children because they were all mothers when they were diagnosed with breast cancer. October is breast cancer awareness month. Early detection is the key to survival. After reading this blog, make an appointment to get your breasts examined. Don't be scared, just do it. It could save your life.