Inflammatory Breast Cancer

I have a couple of other blogs out there – all of which are currently defunct. I started posting, made blogfriends, and then my life sort of imploded and I stopped blogging there. I still check in on my blogfriends and blogidols from time to time, just to see how they’re doing. I feel bad about about abandoning them – leaving them hanging, reading their comments that said things like, “Hey, just checking in on you, is everything okay?” I didn’t know how to come back, how to keep posting there without talking about the things that were on my mind – but, in the interest of maintaining my anonymity, things that I needed to keep private. So I simply chose to disappear.

Tonight I was surfing through my blogroll, hitting a few friends for the first time in months. One post I found at WhyMommy’s place, Toddler Planet, took my breath away and brought tears to my eyes. First of all, every one in the blogosphere needs to read this information:

Inflammatory Breast Cancer

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.

And finally, please keep WhyMommy in your prayers. She’s a great mother to two little boys – and a wife to her sweet husband. She is undergoing her second round of chemo right now.

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Meet the author

MICHELLE NEBEL

I write uplifting women’s fiction woven with threads of faith, grace, and Southern hospitality. My blog is where I share a glimpse of my life, and I hope you’ll find the thoughts here encouraging!

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“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”

Ephesians 2:8-9

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