GUEST FEATURE : “I have no lump and I am left with the big breast cancer scar”
What an awesome way to end October with my first guest feature with two people. The breast cancer awareness conversation continues with Folake sharing her story. Folake was courageous enough to share her story and it is worth learning from.
Folake commented on her breast cancer scare and stated what had happened to her in my previous post. I decided to ask her questions regarding how she dealt with it. In sharing all these, it made no sense talking about it without providing a solution. Dr Adewara helped to shed light on breast cancer and shared tips on becoming being symptomatic and looking after your body.
My name is Folake. I am currently a student and a personal shopper. I used to have two lumps in my breast before my surgery. I first discovered I had a lump in my breast in 2011 and did not get my surgery done until 2015. Don’t be like me. LOL.
You were young when you first discovered the first lump, why did it take you over a year to go back to the doctor?
I did not think it was anything serious actually. The doctor did not sound convincing, I guess she was trying to make it a light situation, so I just completely forgot about it. Also, I changed university two months after and during my second medical evaluation, nothing was said about the lump
A year later, a second doctor confirmed the presence of lump but this time, two(2) lumps were found. The doctor told you to wait it out. What did you think about this especially because you were already experiencing pains?
After the second doctor confirmed that there was a lump, he also added that it was not strange for teenagers to have lumps as it is a part of the normal breast development. The pain was not very bad. It felt like sensitive period boobs except that it was not only during my period. I went back after six months as requested by the doctor and did the breast examination. This was when I found out that there were two lumps. At that time in my life, I was more concerned about not having surgery than the breast lump itself. Didn’t have my surgery until about two years later.
In your comment from my previous post, what stood out for me was when you said you have no lump and you are left with the big breast cancer scar, how does that make you feel?
I used to be conscious about the scar because it was darker and more swollen, it has faded now albeit still visible. I really wanted a small scar, but I guess the infection made it bigger.
You mentioned your stitches got infected, how did that affect your post-surgery recovery?
Post-surgery was the worst. I didn’t school in the city I got my surgery done so I had to leave four days after the surgery. The wound was not healing despite cleaning and dressing it every day. My mum told me all surgeries done in the theatre that day got infected so I was not the only person. I had to travel back and forth to see my doctor. The stitching was not dissolving, the wound was not closing up. Almost two weeks after the surgery, the wound still looked fresh. It was a traumatic experience. I remember vividly the day I could not stop crying on the way to the medical centre in my university because I was bleeding heavily, and I needed a professional to re-dress the wound. Although it ended up healing, it took way longer than it should have.
What is your state of mind having gone through this?
Looking back, I should have got the surgery immediately instead of going to church to pray it away because it could have gotten worse. I see it as a wakeup call to be conscious and pay extra attention to my body. Any change even if it is inconsequential should be noted and shared with a medical practitioner.
What is your sign out note for anyone not being intentional about medical check-up?
I believe general medical checkup is very important and it should be done at least once a year. Even if you lead a healthy lifestyle, it should still be done because not every disease manifest physically immediately.
DOCTOR’S CORNER by Dr Omowunmi Adewara
Lumps are cyclical in nature, hence whenever lumps are being discovered one is adviced to remove it. This is because they can become cancerous especially where there is a family history. Other times, doctors don’t worry too much because lumps have the tendency not to grow and end up disappearing.
As a young woman of reproductive age (18 and above ), you need to know how to do a self-breast examination for yourself. Sexually active women need to have pap smear test.
In addition to general check-up, one needs to check and do tests like Blood Pressure, HIV, Blood level, Hepatitis screening and random blood sugar level. Chronic illnesses like diabetes and hypertension (especially if there is family history) should not be overlooked. People over 40 should include cholesterol, liver and kidney tests as your body may fail you as you age.
Image credit: The BreastCancerSite.com