Have you ever left the doctor’s office stunned and speechless and not because of the sticker price of the visit?  Maybe you didn’t hear them correctly?  But you keep hearing the words that have taken your breath away and changed your life forever.

“You have breast cancer.”

“You need an operation.”

“If left untreated, this can be life threatening.”

You sit in your car, not knowing how you got there or where to go.  A myriad of questions bubble up inside you.  What should you do? What do you tell your family?  How do you prepare yourself and your family for what may lie ahead? How do you move on?  And the biggie – Why, God?

I have heard those words.  I felt the instant fear that enveloped my body, mind and soul.  And I want to share with you how to get from fearing those words to cheering at your success in slaying this dragon called cancer.

This is breast cancer awareness month and I cannot let the month go by without covering this topic.  I know, I know, you’ve heard this all before.  But have you?  Have you just been hearing the blah, blah-blah, blah-blah, but not absorbing and APPLYING the message?

When was the last time you had a mammogram?  Do you know that there are different types of tests for different types of situations?  I didn’t.  And truth be told, even though I am a breast cancer “thriver” I don’t always retain all there is to know about breast health.  My age has impacted my memory – but I tell the grand kids that at 64 my brain is too full and automatically discharges what it deems unimportant because there just isn’t any more room.  In addition, there are new advances in testing and treatments that it bears repeating and listening.

So we are going to start at the beginning.

What is breast cancer?

Breast cancer is a disease in which cells in the breast grow out of control. … The kind of breast cancer depends on which cells in the breast turn into cancer. Breast cancer can begin in different parts of the breast. A breast is made up of three main parts: lobules, ducts, and connective tissue.  Symptoms can include a lump, bloody discharge from the nipple, and changes in the shape and texture of the nipple or breast.

Disclaimer:  For accuracy sake, I have taken the liberty to provide direct written information from various reputable sites.  I give credit to each site and suggest you check them out for even more in-depth information.

Did you know? 

  • In 2019, an estimated 268,600 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women in the U.S. as well as 62,930 new cases of non-invasive (in situ) breast cancer.
  • 62% of breast cancer cases are diagnosed at a localized stage, for which the 5-year survival rate is 99%.
  • This year, an estimated 41,760 women will die from breast cancer in the U.S.
  • Although rare, men get breast cancer too. The lifetime risk for U.S. men is about 1 in 1,000.
  • An estimated 2,670 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year in the United States and approximately 500 will die.
  • 1 in 8 women in the United States will develop breast cancer in her lifetime.
  • Breast cancer is the most common cancer in American women, except for skin cancers.
  • There are over 3.5 million breast cancer survivors in the United States.
  • On average, every 2 minutes a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States.
  • Female breast cancer represents 15.2% of all new cancer cases in the U.S.

Taken from https://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/breast-cancer-facts

Are there Different Types of Breast Cancer?

YES!  That’s why treatment can be difficult and confusing.  There are many types of breast cancer. The most common types are ductal carcinoma in situ, invasive ductal carcinoma, and invasive lobular carcinoma.

The type of breast cancer is determined by the specific cells in the breast that are affected. Most breast cancers are carcinomas. Carcinomas are tumors that start in the epithelial cells that line organs and tissues throughout the body. Sometimes, an even more specific term is used. For example, most breast cancers are a type of carcinoma called adenocarcinoma, which starts in cells that make up glands (glandular tissue). Breast adenocarcinomas start in the ducts (the milk ducts) or the lobules (milk-producing glands).

There are other, less common, types of breast cancers, too, such as sarcomasphyllodesPaget disease, and angiosarcomas which start in the cells of the muscle, fat, or connective tissue.

Sometimes a single breast tumor can be a combination of different types. And in some very rare types of breast cancer, the cancer cells may not form a lump or tumor at all.

When a biopsy is done to find out the specific type of breast cancer, the pathologist will also check if the cancer has spread into the surrounding tissues. The following terms are used to describe the extent of the cancer:

  • In situ breast cancers have not spread.
  • Invasive or infiltrating cancers have spread (invaded) into the surrounding breast tissue.

For more information: from American Cancer Center https://www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer/understanding-a-breast-cancer-diagnosis/types-of-breast-cancer.html

So if you ever hear those frightening, lightning strike words –

“You have breast cancer”, arm yourself with the knowledge of exactly what that means.  Education is vital to surviving physically and emotionally from diagnosis to cure.  And with knowledge you will be empowered to not only survive but thrive.

Come Thrive with me as we journey through breast cancer and how you too, can be a “thriver”.

 

Thank you for reading my post.  If you have found it encouraging please consider liking, commenting or sharing it.  Feel free to comment here or even re-blog – may these words take flight!

I have additional insights I’d love to share with you found in the pages of my debut book: Surviving Medical Mayhem – Laughing When It Hurts.  To order a copy or learn more go to my website at www.lorettaschoen.com

Blessings for Health & Wellness.

 

 

 

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