Breast cancer awareness is about more than pink ribbons. Yes, we said it! It’s more than telling the world that breast cancer merely exists. We all undoubtedly know that it exists, and we likely all know someone touched by breast cancer. And yet, time and again, we hear patients say, “I wish I had known.” Because there is so much about breast cancer that goes unspoken.
Do you ever think that you have another tumour? I don’t mean a recurrence with a breast cancer lesion, but a secondary cancer. And if you do, do these dark thoughts catch you by surprise in random pockets of moments, like when you feel an ache in your shoulder, or a knotted muscle along your spine, or when you take a deep breath and experience a sharpness of pain before you fully exhale? When this happens, do you immediately think, “fuck, I have a tumour,” and then have to talk yourself down from this mental, paranoid ledge? I do.
In August 2014 I found a lump in my left breast. This is unusual for inflammatory breast cancer (IBC), a rare and very aggressive cancer where cancer blocks the lymph vessels.
“Abject terror floating in the back of my head.” That’s how Shelley Moore of St. Albert, Alberta describes her reaction to her 2014 diagnosis of Stage II triple negative breast cancer.
My journey began on New Year’s Eve 2015, when I noticed a red mark on my right breast. It wasn’t long before my stomach dropped and I felt my face flush while my throat did that swallowing action reserved for moments just like this.