№10: How regular annual testing saved my friend's life despite the aggressive breast cancer

Dear Ladies, this one is for you!

When I lived in New York as a student, I had no money and decided to volunteer to donate eggs for women who could not, because the payout would have covered my whole semester. And before you judge, I had no right to work as a student, so options were a bit limited! I went for testing and got the biggest scare of my life, they found a lump in my left breast! I was immediately rejected and sent for a biopsy testing. I was only 25. I went to the doctor alone, and never felt more lonely in my entire life. After I had survived September 11th, this hit me hard! Luckily it turned out to be just a build-up caused by the contraceptives I was taking at the time. Luckily the doctor was a very nice and caring woman and told me that this would disappear if I stopped taking contraceptives, she said "they don't agree with my hormones". So I did and it all cleared away, never took a contraceptive again in my life. I am not against them, don't get me wrong, some people like me just can't handle them. Others I suppose are fine. So she told me, however, to get tested once a year after I turn 35, just in case, so I listened!

Years later I met a girl that became a friend, the nicest person! She was my account rep and was very diligent so I liked her immediately. A few moments later she was diagnosed with a very aggressive breast cancer, and I was praying every day for her to win the battle! I could not bare the thought one more nice person being taken by this cruel disease. But she was a fighter and she fought, boy did she fight! She is now well and living life to the fullest! And we have our occasional cocktails. How, how did you catch the cancer on time, I asked, what prompted you? We are so not used going to the doctor just for annual check ups...in general in Eastern Europe. So here is the story.

She said that when she gave birth to her daughter more than 20 years ago, her breast got clogged and she could not feed the baby daughter for a bit. Her breasts got inflamed. The doctor then told her that she must have annual checks on her breast, because people who have these problems often may develop breast cancer and she must get a check at least once a year! This was way before all the modern technology now, this was during the Communism era in Bulgaria!

We certainly almost don't have these doctors here anymore, at least not that caring. Every patient is now a money making machine for the hospitals and that's it. Rarely do we get to see caring doctors these days, but they do exist! My friend listen to the doctor and for over 20 years she kept having this annual mammography and blood tests until one day something showed up on the screen! She took it to the doctor, he said, no it's fine. She went on for almost a year not doing anything else until she felt a "pull in my left breast pulling all the way to the hand" while I was driving. I knew something was wrong immediately". She went to a different doctor and this one was not just nice, but also experienced, he told her the white spots are worrisome, they had to be examined. She went to 7 other doctor who said everything was fine, it was just another inflammation. Well, she finally trusted the good doctor and a few weeks later she was under the knife. They found a very aggressive breast cancer growing and had to act immediately. Luckily, it was still stage 1! After some brutal therapy and and an attitude of "I will never give up", my friend beat the cancer! It's been 4 years and she is back to life completely! So the other day I decided to ask her how come she got so lucky to catch the cancer in 1st stage, this mean mean type of fast-growing cancer. It was no luck at all, it was preparation and consistency! One of her tumor markers in the test were just at the top border of the indication, so most doctors ignored it. The one who saw the white spots did not ignore it, he knew it was not right! My friend said that at the time she had just finished a brutal divorce and this is when it hit her, she knew it was stress and unhappiness.

So dear ladies, this is a story for you! Luck is one of those things they say, when opportunity meets preparation! The only reason why she got "lucky" was because she was prepared and that saved her life! For over 20 years she did not miss one test, not one! And when the time came, she acted and fought, because she was prepared! This is the one time she cared about herself enough. She is a very generous and sweet person, a great professional as well, who all the time puts her friends and family first. Please take care of yourself and your families! I keep telling and writing about the importance of preventive care. I was in the medical insurance business for over 15 years and if there is one thing I learned for sure is that preventive care saves lives! Preventive care is your best insurance! Yes, it is a bit difficult these days to find a doctor who cares enough to see you are a person, and not a wallet. Now with the Covid situation going on almost two years already, it has become even worse! But there are such doctors out there, just look for them, and look for them hard! And most importantly, be prepared! Be prepared, have your annual tests! If you have family history of any serious disease, do your tests at least once every 6 months even! It is the least and the most you could do for yourself and your families! Get tested to sleep in peace! 



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