Breast cancer? Not just for lumps anymore.


Forgive the flippant title of this post, but I was just trying to get your attention. And if I did, well then, I’m doing my job.

Some of my readers might also read the writings of Whymommy at ToddlerPlanet. And if you do, you know she was recently diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer (IBC), a particularly insidious form of breast cancer.

Whymommy could be me or you. She is 34 and has two little boys, one born just seven months ago. What she is going through is hard and horrible, but she’s fighting this like a champ. And that’s not all she’s doing. She has asked all her readers to take her post on IBC, and post it on their blogs, in hopes of saving even one person from this disease.

As she says, “I’d be happy for anyone in the blogosphere to take this information and put it on their site, no questions asked. Dress it up, dress it down, let it run around the place barefoot. I don’t care. But I want the word to get out. I don’t want another young mom — or old man — or anyone in between — to have to stare at this thing on their chest and wonder, is it mastitis? Is it a rash? Am I overreacting? This cancer moves FAST, and early detection and treatment is critical for survival. Your blog reaches places and women that mine doesn’t. Your blog can be part of this effort to save someone else’s life.”

In the words of Whymommy:

We hear a lot about breast cancer these days. One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetimes, and there are millions living with it in the U.S. today alone. But did you know that there is more than one type of breast cancer?

I didn’t. I thought that breast cancer was all the same. I figured that if I did my monthly breast self-exams, and found no lump, I’d be fine.

Oops. It turns out that you don’t have to have a lump to have breast cancer. Six weeks ago, I went to my OB/GYN because my breast felt funny. It was red, hot, inflamed, and the skin looked…funny. But there was no lump, so I wasn’t worried. I should have been. After a round of antibiotics didn’t clear up the inflammation, my doctor sent me to a breast specialist and did a skin punch biopsy. That test showed that I have inflammatory breast cancer, a very aggressive cancer that can be deadly.

Inflammatory breast cancer is often misdiagnosed as mastitis because many doctors have never seen it before and consider it rare. “Rare” or not, there are over 100,000 women in the U.S. with this cancer right now; only half will survive five years. Please call your OB/GYN if you experience several of the following symptoms in your breast, or any unusual changes: redness, rapid increase in size of one breast, persistent itching of breast or nipple, thickening of breast tissue, stabbing pain, soreness, swelling under the arm, dimpling or ridging (for example, when you take your bra off, the bra marks stay – for a while), flattening or retracting of the nipple, or a texture that looks or feels like an orange (called peau d’orange). Ask if your GYN is familiar with inflammatory breast cancer, and tell her that you’re concerned and want to come in to rule it out.

There is more than one kind of breast cancer. Inflammatory breast cancer is the most aggressive form of breast cancer out there, and early detection is critical. It’s not usually detected by mammogram. It does not usually present with a lump. It may be overlooked with all of the changes that our breasts undergo during the years when we’re pregnant and/or nursing our little ones. It’s important not to miss this one.

Inflammatory breast cancer is detected by women and their doctors who notice a change in one of their breasts. If you notice a change, call your doctor today. Tell her about it. Tell her that you have a friend with this disease, and it’s trying to kill her. Now you know what I wish I had known before six weeks ago.

You don’t have to have a lump to have breast cancer.

Thank you.

Okay, now it’s your turn. Spread the word.


4 Responses to “Breast cancer? Not just for lumps anymore.”

  1. whymommy Says:

    Thank you for spreading the word. You are awesome.

  2. Toddler Planet Says:

    […] Linky Love for WhyMommy: […]

  3. B. Says:

    Thanks for spreading the word…

  4. Toddler Planet Says:

    […] Hank and Willie – July 29:  […]

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