Wednesday, October 3, 2012

October Is All About Pink

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. 

Having been diagnosed with early stage breast cancer about a month ago, I am now so passionate when I speak to others about having themselves checked, and hopefully avoid having to deal with something the doctors can no longer do anything about. 

Cancer is such a dreaded disease. It is so infamous, the mere mention of the word has given me goosebumps and it still does to this day. 

The main thing to remember is this : if you have a history of breast cancer in the family (particularly your mother's side), you need to start getting annual mammograms at the age of 35. If you don't have a history, you can start getting them when you hit 40. Some women I know have told me they don't get it done because they're too scared, not just of the procedure but also of being told that something could be wrong. What a lot of women don't know is that about 80% of the time, lumps found in the breast are benign. So why was that one lump I found in my left breast malignant? Other than the obvious (that I'm part of the 20%), I also have three aunts who are survivors. I can't blame those who are overcome by fear though, because that's exactly how I felt and why I never got a mammogram until AFTER I got diagnosed with breast cancer. Believe me, as soon as I had it, I wanted to bang my head against the wall for not doing it when I was supposed to. It didn't hurt and it took only about 20 minutes of my time. 

All that, naturally, is water under the bridge. I now have breast cancer and I have to say, despite being blessed with a positive attitude, it is not an experience I would wish on anyone, even on my worst enemy. Mom says, an illness is a catalyst for change. Boy, is she right! 

One of the things I promised to do is to be vocal about encouraging others to pay attention to their breasts. I don't know how I would've dealt with it if my doctor told me it was too late to do anything. I am extremely fortunate for having caught it at its early stage, in spite of totally ignoring the need to be checked regularly. But not everyone will be lucky. Why wait to be told there's little or no more hope?

I found these really cool and informative photos on and I'm sharing them here so my readers can see how easy it is to be responsible. 

A mammogram costs around Php 3,000. A breast ultrasound should cost half of that. A self-exam is free and can be done anytime at home (but this alone is never enough). 

Here's a diagram of how to perform a breast self exam. This is how I found my breast lump.

I have since convinced 6 friends to get annual mammograms from now on. I would love to see that number slowly go up. Nothing would make me happier than to know that my own experience served as a wake-up call to others. 

Feel free to ask me if you have any questions. I'm not a doctor but I've learned quite a lot since my journey began, and it is a continuous learning experience for me. I will be happy to share what I know.

Cheers to all the women warriors and survivors out there!


  1. Thank you for sharing your story. Annual mammo very important. I sound crazy saying it because I have no authority to preach. But hearing your story, this is a powerful tool. You can help save lives Patty. Tweeting this.

  2. Thank you! I hope you're right about me helping to save lives, Daphne. Health is wealth! :)

  3. Hi Patty,

    Thanks for spreading the word. I just checked with our HR and mammo is covered by our HMO. Will be scheduling one asap.


  4. Wow, Bing! I'm so happy you're going to do that :) Glad to be of help. My dream is to be able to reach out to as many women as I can.