Why do conversations about breast health matter?

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HAPPY TIMES ARE here again for breast cancer survivor Ontisar Freelain. She advises women to follow their minds as she did and pursue more testing. Freelain was initially told by medical professionals the lumps in her breast were nothing to be concerned about.

By Ontisar Freelain

At the age of 39, I was encouraged to have a mammogram by my new primary care doctor because of a maternal family history of breast cancer. After getting the mammogram, I received a letter stating that due to suspicious dense breast tissue, a follow-up mammogram was needed. A self-exam confirmed the presence of a prominent lump in the upper right breast.

The findings from the follow-up mammogram stated that the suspicious mass was merely a benign lymph node. After a few months passed, the lump could still be felt. During an OB/GYN visit, I shared information about the mammogram with my doctor. Subsequent to the doctor performing a breast exam, she said that the lump was not normal and told me to “keep an eye on it.”

As the year passed, the lump seemed to be getting bigger and a second, new lump could be felt. However, it wasn’t until I had a phone conversation with a close friend that I realized something was wrong. My friend convinced me that I needed a biopsy. When I went in for my second mammogram, I requested one. Days after the biopsy, I received a call informing me that the mass was cancerous.

There are a few takeaways that are important to highlight regarding this experience. These include knowing your family medical history, performing monthly self-exams of your breast, understanding your findings report, and asking for more than a mammogram if you feel a lump in your breast.

The purpose of the information above is to share my personal experience with being diagnosed with breast cancer. It is not meant to provide medical advice. As always, consult a doctor about health-related questions.

Join the 9-21-2019 Beyond A Mammogram Hyde Park 5K to increase the conversation about early detection. Go to www.hydepark5k.org, and click the register button.

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