Before I was a Stage 3 Breast Cancer Patient, I believed all of the following statements. Many of you do as well.
“I have no family history of breast cancer, so I don’t worry about it.”
“Breast cancer doesn’t hurt, so I know this breast pain isn’t cancer.”
“Very young women and very old women don’t get breast cancer.”
Those are all FALSE statements, and I’m going to briefly go through these widespread fallacies one by one.
I HAVE NO FAMILY HISTORY OF BREAST CANCER, SO I DON’T WORRY ABOUT IT
The facts are that 75% to 80% of all breast cancer is NON-genetic. So if you DO NOT have a family history, you are far more at risk. Most of us have been wrongly taught by television, magazine articles and other celebrity gossip that family history is the number one key. WRONG.
Certainly, if you have a family history, that is a matter to immediately discuss with your doctor. But PLEASE do not fall into the thinking that because no family members ever had breast cancer, you will not either. I will repeat this: Statistics prove that 75% to 80% of all breast cancer patients have no family history.
I had no relatives for generations and generations with breast cancer. My mom had no relatives for generations and generations with breast cancer. A genetic counselor believes it is a “fluke” we both got breast cancer. Flukes happen.
BREAST CANCER DOESN’T HURT, SO I KNOW THIS BREAST PAIN ISN’T CANCER
One of my most popular blog posts is one where I warn women that BREAST PAIN CAN BE CANCER!! Thousands of women have read this post about breast pain and breast cancer. I have gotten emails from many, many women thanking me for getting this message out because they had no idea. Some have been diagnosed with breast cancer as a result of it.
I had horrible breast pain a year before my diagnosis. Relying on Dr. Google instead of my own instincts and what my body was telling me, cost me my breast. I do not want that to happen to you. When I was diagnosed, my large tumor was in the exact place where the pain was. An unscientific study of hundreds of breast cancer patients on a popular breast cancer site discovered that over 50% had some type of breast pain before diagnosis.
VERY YOUNG WOMEN AND VERY OLD WOMEN DON’T GET BREAST CANCER
Certainly, I was under that impression. Until I met the young woman in the chemo chair next to me who was diagnosed at age 21 with Stage 4 breast cancer that had literally eaten through her spine. Doctors missed it because they thought she was too young for breast cancer. Recently, I’ve had the privilege of getting to know Lindsay Vanderveen, a young mom diagnosed with Triple Negative breast cancer at age 28. Lindsay found her lump 6 months after giving birth to her second baby. Lindsay’s mission is to teach younger woman that they can be at risk for breast cancer and to do breast self-exams.
Young moms tell me, “I breastfed so that keeps breast cancer away.” More wrong information because although there are some studies out there that show it MAY reduce your risk for breast cancer, that does not mean it does. Plus, I have received hundreds of letters from women diagnosed in their 30s.
Many doctors tell their older patients – age 70 and up – that they don’t need to get their mammograms. My mom was 80 when she found a lump. She had not had a mammogram in 10 years. She was one of the lucky ones that found her small lump that turned out to be Stage 1 – no chemo, no radiation for a woman her age. Age makes no difference – you can get breast cancer and continue to get those mammograms.
Here are some more FALSE statements I hear quite often:
I am a vegetarian and vegetarians don’t get breast cancer. WRONG.
I’ve been my same weight since high school. I’m not a candidate for breast cancer. Mostly overweight women get breast cancer. WRONG
If I have breast cancer, I don’t want to know about it. I don’t go looking for it. Breast cancer won’t kill me. WRONG
Mammograms cause breast cancer. WRONG
Men don’t get breast cancer. WRONG
Please do not believe the lies. Get your mammograms and if you have ever been told you have dense breast tissue, make sure you get a 3D or Tomosynthesis mammogram PLUS an ultrasound at the very least!!