I have Stage IIIc breast cancer. I first discovered this when I was feeling my chest a few years ago and felt a marble-sized lump. Alarmed, I asked an Obgyn doctor who said it was just a cyst and confidently gave reasons why. So, I went with that.
Big mistake. About a year-and-a-half after, rediscovering the lump, I went to my primary care doctor who immediately was worried sent me for a mammogram. This led to a biopsy that showed cancer. Ultimately, over the next nine months, I would get the lump removed, get two rounds of chemotherapy that lasted about three months each, and then five weeks of radiation. Throughout, I lost all my hair, my fingernails and toenails were all messed up, and I have some numbness in my feet. I also felt unwell during chemo, although this was fairly mild compared with what other people with other medical issues go through. At least I could walk, eat, and talk.
In terms of lessons learned, first, if anyone you know feels a lump anywhere in his/her body, it should be automatic to get this analyzed with some sort of test. The tests are very inexpensive, while the downside costs are huge. A mammogram would have cost about 1/1000 of my total medical costs for treatment. Then there’s the value of one’s life. As someone told me afterwards, assume it’s cancer unless proven otherwise.
Second, get a second opinion from another oncologist about your treatment program. Even though I was at a top place, a second opinion consultation from another oncologist was very helpful.
Third, join a group like MBCC. The support and information are very helpful.
Lastly, walking nearly every day and eating fairly healthy foods seemed to help with the side-effects of chemo treatments.
I do feel very fortunate to be living in this day and age to have a good shot at the cancer with the excellent treatment program. I’m also thankful in many other ways.