ASK JOAN

Nina Wormuth

Screen shot 2016 10 18 at 11.28.06 am

Recently I switched facilities for my annual mammogram . I had to pick up my past mammogram films and reports to take with me. I had never seen the reports as they are sent directly to your doctors. Looking through them, I noticed that years ago they saw something in my left breast but felt it was benign. Not a word was said to me about this and my report read "normal results."

Three years ago, I had my annual mammogram and was diagnosed with cancer. A tumor was found in my left breast. An ultrasound showed the same thing. I also had a biopsy which confirmed the cancer. The plan was a lumpectomy and radiation. However, my surgeon who is very thorough and caring, ordered a bilateral MRI with contrast as he wanted as much information as possible prior to surgery. That MRI showed cancer cells all over my left chest area. I will never forget the day the surgeon had to give me that news and tell me I had to have a mastectomy. My surgery was 9 hours long. I had 11 lymph nodes removed including the sentinel node and 5 were cancerous. I had chemo and radiation and take Aromisin daily. My cancer was Stage III. I went from no cancer to Stage III in a year. I believe the reason I can say today that I am a three year survivor is because I had that MRI with contrast.

I had no family history of breast cancer. I was 61 years old and thought I was not at risk for breast cancer. So wrong! I have learned so much now out of necessity. One thing I want o mention which is crucial and which Joan informs people of is what having dense breasts means to you. Dense breast tissue makes breast cancer screening more difficult and it may increase your risk of breast cancer according to the Mayo Clinic. I have dense breasts. In my state now they must tell you this but that is not the case everywhere. If you do have this issue , I urge you to be your own advocate and fight for further testing. It could save your life. I cannot go backwards, but I will gladly do anything to spare others from the experiencing what I have. Stand up for yourself! You deserve the best screening.

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