Would you share your story about how you discovered your stage 3 breast cancer?

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member9403 (Survivor (1 year)) - 05 / 22 / 2012

My cancer was discovered by accident. An accident I am truly grateful for.
I went for my yearly check-up with the gynecologist. My old practice's office had shut down, so I was actually meeting a new doctor. Of course we went through my health history and she noticed that I had written my mom had breast cancer, and the doctor started to ask me specifics about my mom's cancer. I couldn't really answer them. I didn't know which side, I didn't know what stage. I told her my mom had surgery and no chemo or radiation and beyond that I didn't know anything. The doctor, after figuring out I had not much to offer finally asked "Are you and your mom estranged?" I chuckled (because I talk to my mom daily) and explained, I was 10 at the time. I wasn't really told much. And my mom doesn't talk about it now and I've never asked. Which led to saying my mom was 30 at the time.

At this point, my doctor told me I needed to have a baseline mammogram in the next 6 months, since I was 31. And that I should have really had my first mammogram at 29 as apparently recommendations are to start them at an age one year before your mom's age at diagnosis. But then she hesitated. And said, but you're so young, I'm not sure how often to mammogram you at this point. Given my age, she didn't really want me to start them yearly, so she advised me to meet with a breast specialist to get a plan in place. Then she did my exam, proclaimed that everything was great, I was pretty healthy and could come back in a year.

So I went home, and called the specialist and made an appointment. I remember going to her office the next week and the doctor said "So, what bring you in today?" And I told her "Honestly, I don't know! I don't have any concerns and neither does my other doctor. Basically I'm here to get a plan from you about how often to get mammograms." So we went over health history and then she started her physical exam. And that's when the questions started. The right side is significantly larger and heavier than the left. Has it always been that way? No? When did the changes start? Oh, look, your nipple is pulling in a bit ... has that always been that way? No? Okay, when did that start? It feels like you have cysts, have you ever had an ultrasound? No? Okay, Let me whip my machine out and check for you. And in all these questions, especially when I was telling her it hadn't always been that way. That what she was asking about had started about a year ago, I just knew, something wasn't right. I left her office with orders to get a diagnostic mammogram by the end of the week - basically she told me to get in ASAP.

I went home and cried. And cried. I was terrified to make that mammogram appointment. But I did, and I got in three days later. I had the mammogram. Then I had to go get more pictures. Then I had to go get a few more enlargement pictures (at least I think that's what they called them). Then I had to stay and get an ultrasound. Then the doctor wanted to come in and check the ultrasound. All of this within about 2 hours, and ending with: You need a biopsy. It's probably calcification, but we need to be sure. Oh and btw, you've got some cysts in there you should think about removing.

So a week later I was back at the hospital to get a biopsy. And the following week, I was hit with the news it came back positive.

The total time period of all of this: first visit with gynecologist was April 1. The news of the cancer was on April 26.
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