Erin, approaching 40, asked her GP about screening and even thought she lived in PEI, a province where women can self-refer at 40, her GP did not recommend it. Right after her 40th birthday her husband felt the lump.
I asked my GP, “At what point do I start screening for breast cancer?” I was approaching my 40th birthday and I figured that a full physical was probably something that should be reviewed. My GP’s response was that breast cancer screening and mammograms were not recommended for women until they turn 50.
I passed my 40th in January and onto March, I was blissfully unaware that a lump was growing in my right breast. I had bumped it one evening and was brought to tears with the pain, never thinking much more about it.
On March 16, 2021, my husband found the lump. My heart sunk when he looked at me, and asked “What’s this?” Tears sprang to my eyes, and I told him to knock it off. He guided me to what he found, what felt like an almond under my skin at the top of my breast. I obsessively felt it, googled what it could be… decided that since I still have my ovaries it was probably just a cyst and would go down. Regardless, I called my GP to set an appointment, telling them I wanted to give it a couple weeks, because I was sure it was just my hormones, and it would go down. It didn’t. I went to the appointment and my GP found it right away.
Everything happened very fast after that. Mammogram in a week, ultrasound and biopsy the next, another biopsy the next. Within a month I was diagnosed with DCIS. The surgeon assured me that I would have it removed and probably have some radiation. I had a wire guided lumpectomy on June 6, 2021. A month later though, I was diagnosed with stage 1, grade 1, triple positive pure mucinous IDC with high grade DCIS with tight margins. Super rare apparently. I have completed 4 rounds of chemotherapy, 25 rounds of radiation and have 10 infusions of Herceptin left to go.
Long story short, it was still caught early, and thankfully, my chances of survival are much higher. I have to state though, had it not been for my husband, I probably wouldn’t be so lucky. I don’t feel that I was informed of my options. I was not even offered the screening program, didn’t know it existed. It’s a wonderful idea, if you know it’s available… I cannot help but wonder what kind of shape I would be in, 10 years down the road when I would be “eligible” for a mammogram… would I even have been alive?
MBS NOTE: In PEI, women can self- refer at 40 and it is disheartening to hear that GPs continue to discourage women from being screened in their 40s. We are so happy you were able to find your cancer early. Thank you for helping to educate women about the importance of being screened in the 40s. In PEI, BC, NS, and YT you can self-refer at 40 and in the other provinces, you can ask for a requisition for a mammogram. Every woman in Canada is allowed to have a mammogram in their 40s. They just don’t know it and neither do some GPs. Let’s get this fixed!