Hello, my dear readers! You rock! Please remember that when you master your challenges, no matter how they look like.
Last week I told you about the signs/symptoms of Breast Cancer for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This week we check out how to self-check for breast cancer, and I tell you more about my story.
How to self-examine your Breast
I used to do this meticulously. In Germany, I had an ultrasound examination once a year, and my gynecologist checked my breast. She also reminded me to self-examine after my period. The yearly ultrasound was done on all women who had a family history of breast cancer.
As I told you last week, my doctors here knew about my family history but didn’t bother at all about the signs of breast cancer I told them about. They just said: “It’s normal don’t worry but come back if there is anything that worries you”. Well…
I don’t know about school today, but I think self-examination should be taught to girls and boys when they get older, so they know how to do it and what to look for.
Most Changes in your Breast are benign
Most lumps in your breast are not cancer. My breasts are lumpy ones. I get a lot of cysts which are little sacks full of fluid that are not cancerous. They are just so uncomfortable. They can be drained, which I have done several times throughout my life. The doctor puts a needle into the cyst while looking at the ultrasound and then drains the fluid. That procedure never had any side-effects for me. It just took the pain away from the extra fluid in my breasts.
I got a little relaxed about the self-examination
That is why I got a little relaxed about any lumps I found in my breast in the last couple of years. However, they kept niggling in the back of my mind. In October 2019, I went to my old GP and told them again about the lump under my arm. They did a blood test which should have shown inflammation if any cancer was there. It didn’t.
Shortly afterward I changed my GP and had it checked out again in November. The nurse encouraged me to have my regular mammogram. They usually also do an ultra-sound. There I told the radiographer about the lump I had for such a long time, and he did not ignore it but asked if he could take a sample to make sure it’s all ok. I agreed. Thank goodness!
A couple of weeks later, I was called to the hospital again, and the surgeon and breast care nurse told me I had “unexpected cancer”. Bang. Well, they did not just send me a letter, so I suspected that cancer had caught up with me at last.
It turned out I had stage 3 breast cancer which had affected my lymph nodes as well. This is bad because the lymph fluids can spread cancer cells all over the body. So they checked me out from top to bottom to find if it had spread. Luckily it hadn’t, or at least not in a visible way yet.
My Cancer Journey since March
At the end of March, I had an operation to remove two tumors in my left breast. Four weeks later, I started chemotherapy which is now finished. Since October 1st I have had radiotherapy and today I am going to have an injection of Zylodronic acid. That is usually used for osteoporosis but has proven to prevent breast cancer from coming back. So I agreed to have these injections for two years every six months. I have also started to take Tamoxifen which suppresses estrogen as my breast cancer is estrogen receptor-positive.
I am not sure if I developed cancer in those two months between the examination at my old and new GP’s or if it has been there since 2017 when I first discovered the lump under my arm. It doesn’t matter. But what I would like you to take from my story is that self-examination is one of the most effective ways of discovering signs of cancer.
The earlier you catch it, the less invasive is the treatment going to be. I know of women who just needed to have an operation and nothing more. The hospital is very thorough in its approach to my cancer as it has affected my lymph nodes which indicates it might have spread. And I am very grateful for this and believe that the treatments are worth it and will beat this cancer!
One more time: How to self-examine
And here one more time in a slightly different way to give you an incentive to start a habit of self-examination:
But now let’s get our minds off the scary stuff and travel virtually to Croatia.
Come Away With me to Croatia
Croatia is one of the most favourite holiday destinations for people from Germany. I am not sure how well known it is in other countries. Croatia lies opposite Italy at the Adriatic and has many influences from Italy.
The Adriatic coast is beautiful that is why Croatia often is called “the Jewell of the Adriatic”. I’ve never been, but the videos I watched made me want to go.
I am sorry, I got quite tired and didn’t take much consideration on the music playlist of Croatia. The few that I chose sound rather intriguing, though:
And where are we going next week?
Come Away With Me 2020 Musical Challenge Country for Monday, October 19th, 2020
I am taking a rather random route around the world, but sometimes it makes sense. Next week we venture into Bosnia & Herzegovina. Please find musicians from Bosnia at the CultureTrip page: Bosnian Pop in 8 Artists
As for the suggestions to take part:
- Join in! No matter where, when and with what. No matter if you have cancer or not! You missed the first week? Don’t worry. Just jump in when it suits you.
- Send us the link! The ping-back option does not always work so please leave a link in the comments of the post on the day you take part. Or leave it at the “Come Away With Me 2020 FB page“
- Tag your post either with ” Come Away With Me Musical Challenge”/ #CoAwWiMeMuCh” / “Come Away with Me 2020 Musical Challenge” o/“CoAwWiMe2020MuCh” / . You can also use these as hashtags for Twitter and other Social Networks to give your post more exposure. If you add #blog and #music with your hashtags it will get you more readers.
- No matter which music or country the prompt favours you create with it whatever you please. This is supposed to be a fun challenge and no chore.
- I post a prompt for the next week with every “Come Away With Me 2020 post” I write.
- If you like, use this picture for your readers to find the posts.
I am fundraising for McMillan and you can donate here and download Bees McMillan Coffee Morning German Christmas Download (PDF file) (no it’s not in German but about German recipes and Christmas 😉 ) here: You can download it now anyway as the event has ended
Just one more thing before you go: The hospital that is treating me is fundraising for a dedicated breast cancer unit which would allow same-day diagnosis and better premises for patients and staff.
Please, if you can spare a little money hop over to their Just Giving Page and give as little or much as you can. Or share the page on your social media. Your support means a lot to me! Thank you very much.
Thanks my dears, for staying with me until the end. I appreciate your presence. Please stay safe, stay kind and remember that you rock!