My Breast Cancer Scare: Truths or Myths?

Every time I’ve changed Gynecologists, I filled out the dreaded medical history forms knowing the reaction my new doctor will have once she/he sees that both my grandmothers had breast cancer.”Do you examine your breasts often?” “You need to be very careful”, “Here put your arms up and let me see” poke poke poke…

Though I am glad for their concern I must admit that it is scary to think that you are considered high risk for breast cancer. In June of this year, I turned 30 and I can’t begin to tell you all the weird changes that have been happening to my body. Some are way too weird and personal to mention, but about a month ago I did find a strange mass in my left breast. Now this is not really unusual for me since I normally have quite lumpy breasts, especially as that time of the month gets closer. So I figured it was just my natural lumps just feeling a little extra lumpy and I didn’t pay it much mind. Three weeks later however it was still there and even more pronounced. So, to ward off any possibilities that it was my imagination playing tricks on me I asked my mother if she felt anything and she did. I quickly made the appointment to see my gynecologist.

I decided not to become rippled with fear about what the possibilities of an unknown mass in my breast could mean, but my panicky personality got the best of me and at times and I would picture myself losing all my hair which I had been spending so much time and money taking care of, the possibility of not being able to have kids, and worst of all losing my breast which I quickly passified by picturing myself with fake boobs. Vein and shallow!…yes I know. I reprimanded myself for thinking such thoughts and focused on God and life and thinking positive. It may be nothing.

The day of my much anticipated appointment came. As I waited in the examination room for my doctor, I lay on the bed in my robe opened to the front and busied myself with texting and bbm’ing to keep my mind of the negative. Thirty minutes later my doctor walked in with chart in-hand and stated, “What borough do you live in?” I said Queens. She said, “For How long?” Took me a while to think. I was unprepared for those questions. I was expecting something more around “How long have you had the lump?”, “Who else in your family has had breast cancer?”, “Seen any strange oozing?”

Seeing the confused look on my face, my gynecologist explained that the reason why she asked was because women who have lived in Queens and Long Island all or most of their lives are twice as likely to get breast cancer than women in any other borough in New York City. I was shocked! “I wasn’t aware of that at all” I said and told her that I had only been living in Queens for the past 2 years and spent most of my life in the Caribbean. She then began her examination of both my breasts, starting with the right and then the left. She quickly felt the mass as well as another somewhere in the center of my left breast. She had me feel it also and yes! certainly there was something there. Not quite a lump or ball per se but definitely something. She asked me if I drink caffeine. I replied in the affirmative and told her that I had at least one cup a day give and take a few days here and there when I preferred tea. She told me that caffeine has been known to make the breasts lumpy. Again, I was shocked at that.

She also told me that taking 600 mg’s of Vitamin E daily will also help prevent breast cancer. Another shocker! She also asked me if I wore wired bras. I told her “All the time” she then went on to say that I needed to get non-wired bras since the wired ones are known to put extra pressure on the glands of the breast and can lead to breast cancer also. Yet another shocker!

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