Cancer kills. It has killed my father. It has killed my grandmother, my grandfather, an aunt and uncle, and too many other relatives to mention.
Cancer has many forms and names, but the best way to beat the odds is early detection. It’s never more important than when dealing with a fast-acting cancer such as inflammatory breast cancer. While inflammatory breast cancer does not run in my family, anything we can do to educate ourselves and others is worth our time.
I am taking the invitation of fellow blogger Memegrl (memegrl.blogspot.com) to spread the word about cancer. Below is her blog about her friend’s experience with inflammatory breast cancer while pregnant and how to detect this cancer to seek quick help from doctors. Memegrl asks that you all feel free to post. If you don’t have a blog, you can e-mail or even use good old word of mouth.
Spread the word because silence is deadly.
I also invite you to use this post as a platform to tell others about your experiences with cancer of any type.
Blessings to all.
“Monday, July 30, 2007
“And now for an important public service announcement
“I know, many of you who know me are well aware that my best friend was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer when she was pregnant. (Because she’s an overachiever like that. Most of us would have enough trouble with either cancer OR pregnancy AND working full time but nope, not her.) I had never heard of inflammatory breast cancer until the email from her. (“Are you sitting down? Good. I’m pregnant! I’m due in June and it’s a boy and he’s healthy and we’re thrilled. And I have breast cancer. It’s called inflammatory breast cancer, and it’s one of the most lethal forms, and I’m starting treatment tomorrow.” Yah. That’s the email you like to see from your BFF when you are strung out from trying to nurse your own newborn and desperately seeking comfort and connection from the internet.)
“Since that time, I have learned of three other women with it, which leads me to believe one of three things: 1) the percentage of all breast cancers that inflammatory represents must be growing from the stated 1%-5% (because really, otherwise how do I hear of all these and almost no others?); 2) further proof of the “once you become aware of something you find it everywhere” phenomenon (ever have that happen with a new word or idea–you never heard of it, then find it 6 times in a day?); or 3) it’s getting better press in general.
“Anyway, here’s a post from the latest diagnosee in Bloggityville. Please read it. Please remember it. Please do your BSEs, or remind someone you love. And, thankfully, my BFF is now a few years out and doing well.
“From Toddler Planet:
“Inflammatory breast cancer
“Monday July 23rd 2007, 3:11 pm
“Filed under: About Us / Favorites, breast cancer
“We hear a lot about breast cancer these days. One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetimes, and there are millions living with it in the U.S. today alone. But did you know that there is more than one type of breast cancer?
“I didn’t. I thought that breast cancer was all the same. I figured that if I did my monthly breast self-exams, and found no lump, I’d be fine.
“Oops. It turns out that you don’t have to have a lump to have breast cancer. Six weeks ago, I went to my OB/GYN because my breast felt funny. It was red, hot, inflamed, and the skin looked…funny. But there was no lump, so I wasn’t worried. I should have been. After a round of antibiotics didn’t clear up the inflammation, my doctor sent me to a breast specialist and did a skin punch biopsy. That test showed that I have inflammatory breast cancer, a very aggressive cancer that can be deadly.
“Inflammatory breast cancer is often misdiagnosed as mastitis because many doctors have never seen it before and consider it rare. “Rare” or not, there are over 100,000 women in the U.S. with this cancer right now; only half will survive five years. Please call your OB/GYN if you experience several of the following symptoms in your breast, or any unusual changes: redness, rapid increase in size of one breast, persistent itching of breast or nipple, thickening of breast tissue, stabbing pain, soreness, swelling under the arm, dimpling or ridging (for example, when you take your bra off, the bra marks stay – for a while), flattening or retracting of the nipple, or a texture that looks or feels like an orange (called peau d’orange). Ask if your GYN is familiar with inflammatory breast cancer, and tell her that you’re concerned and want to come in to rule it out.
“There is more than one kind of breast cancer. Inflammatory breast cancer is the most aggressive form of breast cancer out there, and early detection is critical. It’s not usually detected by mammogram. It does not usually present with a lump. It may be overlooked with all of the changes that our breasts undergo during the years when we’re pregnant and/or nursing our little ones. It’s important not to miss this one.
“Inflammatory breast cancer is detected by women and their doctors who notice a change in one of their breasts. If you notice a change, call your doctor today. Tell her about it. Tell her that you have a friend with this disease, and it’s trying to kill her. Now you know what I wish I had known before six weeks ago.
“You don’t have to have a lump to have breast cancer.
“P.S. Feel free to steal this post too. I’d be happy for anyone in the blogosphere to take it and put it on their site, no questions asked. Dress it up, dress it down, let it run around the place barefoot. I don’t care. But I want the word to get out. I don’t want another young mom — or old man — or anyone in between — to have to stare at this thing on their chest and wonder, is it mastitis? Is it a rash? Am I overreacting? This cancer moves FAST, and early detection and treatment is critical for survival.