By: Serena Crawford
Mammograms usually do not become routine until a woman is over the age of 40. They are a preventive measure to check for cancer. But what happens when you are younger? Self-exams are extremely important and should be done at least every month. If you feel a lump you can go to your doctor and have it checked out. One woman, Sarit Fishbaine, did exactly that after she experienced a loss in her life due to [email protected] cancer. She stated that she had always had lumpy [email protected] and at the time was nursing her youngest child but wanted to get checked out anyway.
Fishbaine’s doctor stated that she was fine and that the lump that she was feeling was just a clogged milk duct which is common in nursing mothers. She went home with her fears calmed. Then one night she was watching an episode of the popular television drama Grey’s Anatomy and something struck a chord with her. A woman came in to the hospital and had a full mastectomy. Her cancer had not been caught in time because it was diagnosed as a clogged milk duct. She began to worry about the lump that she still felt even though she had stopped nursing a few months prior. She made the decision to get a second opinion from a different specialist. After a three week wait she had a mammogram and it was discovered that she had stage 3 [email protected] cancer and it had spread to her lymph nodes.
Fishbaine had an emergency mastectomy and an aggressive six month round of chemotherapy. She involved her children in her treatment as she wanted them to see that she was getting the best care possible. The children helped her shave her head once the chemo made it fall out. Fishbaine is now cancer-free and says that she may not be here today if she hadn’t seen that episode of Grey’s Anatomy. It made her think twice about her health and take charge to get a second opinion. The lesson here is that if you truly feel that there is something wrong and your doctor dismisses you the first time around, it is always better to get a second opinion before it is too late. Be your own health advocate. This is especially true for black women.
Black women are diagnosed with [email protected] cancer less often than white women but they have a higher death rate. Usually the cancer begins at an earlier age and is more aggressive when it is found. Black women have denser [email protected] tissue than white women do and this can make it harder to spot tumors on a mammogram. Ensure that you are conducting self-exams and have clinical exams often. Early detection is the key.