Breast Cancer: My Personal Story

A mammography is a process of X-ray to examine the human breast. This process can detect early signs of breast cancer

By Carmelina Vargas
Published on LatinoLA: October 19, 2010

Breast Cancer: My Personal Story

There was a recent debate over whether women should wait until after the age of 50 in order to get medical coverage for something as simple as a Mammography. A Mammography is a process of X-ray to examine the human breast. This process can detect early signs of breast cancer and can reduce mortality from breast cancer.

I was a bit disconcerted when i read how late is was "recommended" for women to begin an annual mammography. I, myself, would have probably died in a few years if my gynecologist did not recommend i get a mammography in my late 20s!. I would have never seen the age of 30, 40 or 50 for that matter.

I am very proud of my mom because she gets screened every year. I have a friend who is 35 and doesn't wait until she's 40 to get screened. Everyone was shocked to hear i was diagnosed at such a young age. Usually, breast cancer is prevalent among women over 50. I learned men can get breast cancer too, but it's a small percentage. About 7.1 percent of men developed breast cancer by the age of 70.

Honestly, the mammography screening process could be a little grueling if you have dense breasts and have to contort your breasts to all kinds of positions in order to weed out any small changes in your breasts.

But if anyone should recommend a mammography it would have to be me! Please don't wait until you are 40 years old to get one. If you are under the age of 40 and feel ANY visible or non visible changes in your breasts, don't walk but RUN and tell your doctor. That one move saved my life!!

I learned that 80% of breast cancer cases have NO heredity. I learned that the younger you are, the MORE aggressive the cancer is. Time is of the essence. Become aware of this deadly disease and pass on the word to your girlfriends, sisters, mothers, daughters. Open your mouth because so many women pass away in silence and it's important to bring light to this horrible non-curable disease.

I found a small change in my left breast through a breast self-examination. Every woman's breast goes through regular changes through puberty and that's normal. In the early teens, girls should learn how to get acquainted with their breasts and changing bodies.

If you feel any unusual changes, lumps, leaking or visible changes in the areola or nipple, please consult your doctor at ANY AGE. Breast self-examinations should be performed days after your period is over by raising one arm over your head and massaging your breast in a circular motion for any changes. Repeat on other breast. This is how i saved my own life!

Prevention or early detection can be as simple as you encouraging a friend or relative to go get checked on a yearly basis. If this person has no medical coverage, there are some women's services and community outreach programs that provide free screenings on site. The idea is to take action on your part to net out any potential derailment to your health. Seek these programs by word of mouth, Internet or community churches. Seek, seek, seek help!

As women, we must take an active role in our health because no one is going to knock on our door and hand-hold us to get a Mammography. Since i was diagnosed with early breast cancer in 2009, I've learned of so many women passing. Some passed due to advance stages of breast cancer and others (i was told) were a bit careless with their follow up and treatments out of fear. This brings pain to my heart. So many of us are paralyzed because of fear in general in our daily lives.

Fear can stop you from taking your next breath when it comes to Breast Cancer. Fear and Breast Cancer should NOT coexist. Act fast, act now. The rest will take care of itself. As long as you know you have done everything in your power to get screened and be healthy, you will be fine.

If you, by any chance, are diagnosed with anything in relation to or near breast cancer, there are treatments available and many survivor support groups. Some breast cancers are more aggressive than others, depending on your situation. Every breast cancer case is different and gets a specialized bodily (local and regional) treatment based on its stage and type. One size does not fit all.

By the time, i found out about my diagnosis during a routine shower, the courage to get a Mammography saved my life. Unfortunately, my cancer had already spread to three of my lymph nodes, outside of the breast, and i didn't even know it...that is so messed up!!

BUT, if i would have waited in fear, i wouldn't be reading this. Tell a friend.

About Carmelina Vargas:
Recording artist and breast cancer survivor turned advocate.
Author's website

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