June of this year, we had our company Annual Physical Exam or APE. During the physical exam, aside from taking our medical history, the doctor will also perform a breast exam upon the permission of the patient. I usually skip this part because most times, the doctors that come to our office during APE are males and I’d rather be seen by a female doctor.
This year’s APE, it was a female doctor so I said yes to a breast exam. While checking my breasts, the doctor asked me if we had a family history of cancer (not that I know of), if I self examine my breasts (which I do not), and if I have had a breast ultrasound before (never).
She paused talking for a few minutes and asked me, “Nararamdaman mo ‘to?”.
And the world stopped.
Yes, I felt what she was talking about. There was a mass on my right breast. When she moved on to my left breast, we felt another lump.
Seriously, my heart skipped a beat. I was scared. What are those lumps? Are they malignant? What stage? Bata pa ang mga anak ko! Bata pa ako!
I was calm on the outside but already in a state of panic on the inside. I composed myself and asked the doctor what those lumps are. She said, she does not know for certain but I am advised to wait until my next period is done and see an OB-GYN.
Two weeks after, I went to see an OB-GYN. She said, given that I have no family history of Breast Cancer, chances of me having it are pretty slim. The lumps that we felt may be milk ducts but just to be sure I was told to get a mammogram and a breast ultrasound.
I’m thankful that my HMO covers both procedures so I didn’t have to pay for anything. Mammogram is a procedure where I stood in front of a machine and had my breasts compressed, one after the other. I was told to hold my breath while the images were being taken. I was also warned that compression may be painful but, in my experience, there was mild discomfort but no excruciating pain. The entire procedure lasted about 20-30 minutes.
After the mammogram, I was told to transfer to another room for the ultrasound. I was asked to lie down on the bed, the sonographer then put some gel on my breasts and moved the transducer over each one. The ultrasound lasted 15-20 minutes.
After the ultrasound, I got dressed and was informed that results will be ready in 5 days.
Honestly, I barely slept during those 5 days. I didn’t want to think about it, I stopped myself from googling, I distracted myself with work, chores and the kids. But, I did tell a few people about it and asked prayers just to get it off my chest (pun intended, hehe).
The day that I got the results, I was so nervous. I was chatting with my husband and I told him how scared I was. When I went in the OB-GYN’s clinic and she saw the results, she ecstatically said, “Sabi ko sa’yo eh, wala lang yan!’
I breathed a sigh of relief and thanked the Lord. The weeks leading up to this was stressful and scary but I am glad that I went through it because I learned to never take our bodies for granted, that even if we think we are healthy, it pays to have ourselves checked, at least, annually just to be sure.
I talked to my OB GYN, Dra. Eva Manauis-Macababbad. She was my doctor during my two pregnancies and delivered both my kids via C-section. According to her, a breast cancer vaccine has not been developed yet. Which is very unfortunate, given that breast cancer cases have risen over the years.
As of 2018 here in the Philippines, out of the 24798 breast cancer cases, 8057 of them resulted to death.
Reference: The Global Cancer Observatory, May 2019.
As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure, so, we should be examining our breasts regularly. Dra. Eva said we can do self breast examination either lying down or upright and we should be looking out for all kinds of lumps.
Usually, for people who does not have breast cancer in their family history, they are advised to undergo Mammogram at 45 years of age while those who had breast cancer in the family, Mammogram may start at 40 years of age.
But, if like me, you discover any irregularities with your breasts, go see a doctor immediately, regardless of your age.
For yourself and for your family, please visit your doctors regularly and have yourselves checked. Let us all contribute in raising breast cancer awareness to lower down the mortality rate – spread breast health education, information on preventation and early detection.
Here’s where you can get more information and support: