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Marisa Salcines

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Why Ignoring a Lump Can Cost You Your Life

08/26/2015 01:20PM | 7659 views

When my friend’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, it had already progressed to stage 3. The year before, her husband had a died of liver cancer, and she later revealed to her family that her doctors had found a lump in her breast but since she was so overwhelmed with grief, she didn’t have time to deal with it.


Months later she had to deal with her diagnosis because it began to progress. Unfortunately, my mom's friend breast cancer spread to her bones. She has been undergoing chemotherapy for a few months now and was recently told she needed to have a mastectomy.

In 2015, an estimated 231,840 new cases of breast cancer are predicted with 40,000 estimated to succumb to breast cancer. Every day many women, who either are too busy or forget, ignore a lump which inevitably can cost them their lives. In addition to getting a mammogram after age 40, women should conduct self-breast examinations.

While lumps don’t necessarily mean you have cancer, you should see your doctor. Here are few signs you should pay attention to when it comes to your breasts.

  1. a hard lump
  2. redness and/or swelling around breast and/or armpit
  3. nipple discharge
  4. breast pain that does not go away
  5. itchy,rash around nipple

Given my friend's family history of breast cancer (her grandmother is a survivor), her mother should have been more vigilant. However, she lived a healthy life as a vegetarian and exercised regularly, she thought she was doing everything right. And even when she was diagnosed, like many Latinas, she didn't want to face the issue. Change is incredibly hard for our culture and something as life-altering as this is completely overwhelming. 

My friend's mom was recently told there was not  much more they could do for her and palliative care was her only option.In other words, there's nothing more her doctors can do for her to save her  life. As she celebrated an early Christmas with her daughters, it was bittersweet. On one hand they were glad there mom was with them to share the moment but sad that she has little time. 

My friend often gets angry at her mom for ignoring her symptoms early on and from seeking preventive care over the last several years. I have the same thoughts about my mom, who passed away in September of 2013 from endometrial cancer.  She had also ignored signs and sought screening early on. However, what my friend and I have learned that the only good that comes from this pain, is if we can alter our futures and that of our daughters to ensure they are informed about their healthy, lead healthy lives as a preventive measure, and know when to seek help from medical professionals. Our mother's legacy will be one of love but one of valuing being a self advocate for your health. 

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