Friday, January 19th 2007
Early Breast Cancer Detection, BSE’s and Club 17

The Club 17 and BSE Post I Will Always Link To If You Ask Me Something Covered Here. It might also be the Post I Will Link To Even If It Holds No Answers. Sorry.

Updated to Add: Huh. I posted this, then went back and read it and realized it starts off really boring. hang in there, good stuff awaits at the bottom.  (that was so much less work than trying to fix it. hee hee.)

Q: What’s a BSE?

A: BSE stands for Breast Self Exam.

Q: Why do I do these monthly reminder/nag sessions? I mean, why is it SUCH a big deal? Well. I’ll tell you.

A: When Caden-2yr was a tiny little 3 month old, I found a lump. I never did self breast exams, and so i had no idea how long it had been there. That one thought nagged at me in the night for weeks afterwards. It was about pea sized, hard, and the edges of it were rough. None of those things were good. There are a lot of lumps and bumps and cysts and things that can be quite harmless – especially for a nursing mom. But rough edges were notably bad.

I had so many doctor’s appts over the next weeks. It just dragged on and on. The surgeon I saw knew immediately it wasn’t good. After a long conversation, we decided the next step would be an ‘ultrasound guided biopsy.’ There was already one ultrasound of it, but it had been lost somehow between doctor’s offices.

I was a wreck. I remember trying to live minute to minute. Constant prayer over the next minute. And I was too scared to really ask God to just fix it. I couldn’t even pray that. I focused on what would happen, and the things i should do in case i died and left my daughter and two sons without a mother. I had no peace whatsoever that everything would work out. None. I was numb.

Mike did pray, though. He prayed a lot. And one day he said something that really, really made me angry. He said that he’d prayed and God had answered him that ‘it would be good.’ GOOD? Excuse me?  HOW? That really ticked me off, and anytime I worried and Mike tried to reassure me with that particular answered prayer, I got even more mad and worried.

Life was so hard those 6 or 8 weeks. Then we went in for that ultrasound guided biopsy.

And it was gone. Magically, completely, utterly… gone.

They had all said it wasn’t the sort of lump that would disappear. Certainly not like it did.It hadn’t changed at all in any way since it was first detected. And that wasn’t good either.

But it did disappear. The doctors were in shock. My surgeon, when she heard about it, was in total disbelief and had her office call me so that she could look for it herself. After all, it just wasn’t the sort that would go away. And she would know.

Mike and I cried in the waiting room, hugged, and walked out into the parking lot of the hospital, stunned. And then Mike, with tears streaming down his face, said "Kels, what did God say?"

"That it would be good?"

"Yeah."

And I agreed. It was good. But I was missing something.

Mike laughed and said, "But what is today?"

"Friday." I wasn’t getting whatever it was he wanted me to see.

"No. It’s Good Friday."

And it was. The Friday before Easter, Good Friday, of 2004 was especially good.

(Thank You, God for that answer to Mike’s prayer – I didn’t understand or appreciate it at all then, but it’s pretty special to me now.)

After that I resolved to do those monthly self breast exams. If I ever had to go through that again, i wanted to KNOW how long it had been there. That piece of information would have set my mind at ease. It would have been so much better to be able to think, ‘huh. there’s a lump. scary, but it’s at least i know it is new. let’s call a doctor.’  i hope none of you ever find a lump. But more than that, i hope that if you do, you can say, ‘at least I know it is very new. I caught this – whatever it is – as early as I possibly could.’ 

I know what some of you are thinking. It’s the reason I haven’t written this before now, to be honest. Compared to so many other stories that end tragically, or involve an actual drawn out fight with cancer, my story might not sound like much. And maybe it isn’t. But my point is that it was pretty horrific anyway, and if I can be more proactive, and bug you to be – then i will.

Thanks for letting me. I know I can be obnoxious about it.

**********************Important Link Section*******************

Q: How do I do a self breast exam?

A: just look here and here

Q: Ok, but should I still do one if I’m under 30, wear green underwear, my doctor does them once a year, or any other reason or excuse I can fill in?

A: If you have breasts, examine them. Once a month. I think a little accountability for all of us will help keep us in the habit and that’s why i do this thing.

Q: What is Inflammatory Breast Cancer?

A: If you don’t know about IBC please familiarize yourself with this website.

Q: What if I do them another time of the month? What time of the month is best for me?

A: EXCELLENT QUESTIONS. Click here to see the answers. I picked the 17th as an arbitrary, easy to remember (for me) date. If you don’t have periods for any reason, just pick an arbitrary time such as the 17th.

If you would like a FREE EMAIL reminding you of what time is the best time for YOU to do your BSE, then sign up here. (no, it won’t come from me. i think it comes from Canada. Good idea, eh?)

*******************************************************

CLUB 17 SECTION:

If you want to join Club 17, this is the lowdown:

1. check in once a month on the 17th and report that you have done a BSE sometime since the last check in on the previous month’s 17th. NOTE: your BSE does not have to be done ON the 17th. That’s just when we check in. To find out when you should be doing yours, see above.

2. If you have done your BSE, leave a comment on the Club 17 post saying "I did it!" or something to that effect.

3. If you have a blog, and wish to display the following buttons, please do so. I would love for you to help advertise the importance of doing our monthly exams. Also, please remind other to do their BSE’s whenever it is you do yours.

Julie at Desert Diva created them. Isn’t she THE BEST?!  I’m so thrilled with how they turned out! 

The first one is a Club 17 button for your sidebar if you have participated at least one time. (you have done one BSE and checked in on the comments section at least one time.)

Club17_2_1

I want you all to end up with this next button, though. This is for those of you who have participated at least SIX times. By this point, you have formed a very healthy habit and of course you deserve a crown!  Leave a comment stating that you are ‘crowning yourself’ and we will get very excited for you, and some will envy you – because hey. it IS a crown. Then it’s yours for the taking. You earned it.

Club17_2_princess

I’m VERY pleased that nonbloggers are participating. Seems to me that nonbloggers are far less likely to leave comments, so i’m particularly thrilled when they DO. And when it’s on a Club 17th post, then big, BIG YEA! So, I think for the bloggers there will be the incentive of the Club 17 button, and as incentive for the nonbloggers, there should also be something, don’t you think?
Perhaps a book, or a card or a something. Ok. I have no idea. Can you tell? But I will have something for each month  for ALL the BSE-ers who check in. I’ll do a drawing and that BSE-er will receive the possibly wonderful (possibly totally crappy) prize.  No blog required of course.

I will NOT go back and check if so-and-so really did an BSE six times. Two words: Honor System.

Q: How do I put that on my blog? Make it link back here? Insert any other technical type question of any kind…?

A: I have no idea. (Did you see those crazy asterisks up there? THAT was the best I could do, and that has to be simpler that HTML.)

Updated to add: Desert Diva has fantastic instructions on how to place those buttons. Just check out this post!

YeA for DESERT DIVA!!!

~hm

31 Comments on “Early Breast Cancer Detection, BSE’s and Club 17”

1
Rocks in my Dryer
January 19th, 2007
11:28 pm

I for one am SO glad you do this, Kelsey. I will post about it next month.

2
Heather
January 20th, 2007
8:44 am

Aha … so that’s the story. Thanks for doing this. Love the buttons!

3
Julie
January 20th, 2007
12:11 pm

Thanks for sharing your story, Kelsey. I posted directions for getting the image on a blog on my site.

http://desertdiva.typepad.com/desert_diva/2007/01/club_17_help.html

4
crickl's nest
January 20th, 2007
12:40 pm

Wow Kelsey….wonderful story.

Everyone who reads this is very glad to know your story because
1) your experience will prompt women to take this seriously
2) your story will show women who are going through this that you understand the trauma of not knowing, of the waiting for answers, all the what ifs *I had one of those experiences too, but it didn’t take as long as yours and we knew it was a ‘cyst’ type of thing, not a hard tumor* It sure helps to know you understand how wigged out you can get during the process though!
3) your story shows that God listens to our prayers, and even if the ‘good’ part had been actually walking through cancer and having scars, He shows us in those times things we can never learn any other way and it makes us a better/stronger/more understanding and compassionate person.

So thanks!
Christie

5
Cheryl
January 20th, 2007
2:21 pm

Never knew you went through that. It is good to have a praying husband! It is good to have a big God!

Love ya…

6
Desert Diva
January 20th, 2007
8:57 pm

Club 17 Help

Hey, y’all. Big welcome to anyone coming over from HolyMama’s! Isn’t she the best. She cracks me up on a regular basis. If you don’t already know about the ever-important Club 17, then go here. But I thought I’d post

7
flipflopmamma
January 20th, 2007
9:33 pm

I’m not sure how many times it’s been for me!! I’m thinking 3 or 4?? Now I have to go digging through your archives!!! LOL.

That story brought tears to my eyes!! I love hearing miracle stories!

8
flipflopmamma
January 20th, 2007
9:41 pm

Guess what?????? I have done 5!!! You know why??? Because I didn’t have internet for 2 whole months, and I completly forget without your reminders!! AND because you didn’t start this until JUly!! Is that right??? I didn’t find one in June or May archives. Geesh, I have to wait a whole month to be crowned!!lol

9
angie armstrong
January 21st, 2007
6:47 am

Thanks for sharing your story, Kelsey. Cancer is hard, very hard. Hard for adults, even more hard for kids. Glad to hear God answered Mike’s prayer and that you’re doing ok. I appreciate your monthly reminders. It’s not a “fun” part of life, but it falls in the “neccesary” category!

10
Stacey
January 21st, 2007
9:38 am

I love the new buttons! I will have to go back and see how many times I’ve actually done it. I know it’s been quite a few : )

11
Stacey
January 21st, 2007
9:46 am

If I counted correctly, I’ve done 7 of them! Woohoo, I get the special button!

12
Heather
January 21st, 2007
1:08 pm

Awesome!!

13
Diane
January 22nd, 2007
11:47 am

What a compelling life experience! Thanks for sharing this with us–although–I am more than happy to be part of the Club 17…just cuz you’ve invited me! Nonetheless, a heartfelt story to back up the invitation is never unappreciated….as a matter of fact…it is downright inspirational…..it is GOOD!

Diane

14
Shalee
January 22nd, 2007
12:59 pm

I’m all over it, with a crown of course because every woman is a princess in her heart. Thanks for your story which makes me understand your good deed every month.

Just one question: What do I do if the woman in the button has much bigger breast than I do in real life? Because I can tell you this: That woman is not a visual representation of me in all ways… I might have the hair and smile, but that chest is no where near my cup size. Is it right to have boob envy over a cartoon? I didn’t think so.

And on a brighter note: I bought my daughter her first training bra this weekend. (Why do they call it a training bra. My breasts never listen…) Anyway, it is a sad note (for me) to say that not only does my daughter, at 10, have the ability to borrow my shoes and some of my clothes, she is *THIS* close to being able to wear one of my bras. Which is fine by me because I don’t really want to wear one anyway.

TMI again? I thought so.

Yay, Kels. You rock!

15
Joanne
January 22nd, 2007
8:00 pm

Wow, thanks for sharing your story. It was amazing.

16
emily
January 23rd, 2007
2:00 pm

i’m so glad you’re doing this. your club and reminders have helped me to do the BSEs. i know i wouldn’t have even thought of it otherwise.

i’ll see if my husband can help me put the button on. i’m incapable.

17
Lindsey
January 24th, 2007
4:43 pm

As the daughter of a survivor who caught her cancer through BSE, I can’t support what you are doing here enough! Thank you so much – I definitely look forward to participating!!!

18
Gina
January 24th, 2007
8:23 pm

Wow! Great story. God is GOOD!

19
Carol
January 26th, 2007
6:42 am

You are so good to do this. I love the little incentive button. Very HM!!

20
jeana
January 27th, 2007
11:09 pm

Oops! I thought I already commented and said I’m so glad you told this story.

And do I get an extra book entry for getting a professional BSE? (My yearly.)

21
millicent
January 30th, 2007
6:31 pm

great story–and I did mine as always :)
I just don’t always comment but figured I would this time since you know, you’re offering an incentive for doing so :)

22
Sarah
January 31st, 2007
11:51 am

Thanks for sharing your story with us. I’m reeeeally late to comment, but I checked mine. All good here.

23
Heather
February 2nd, 2007
5:12 pm

I think that what you’re doing here is wonderful. I’ve been doing them monthly for years, but I wanted to say thanks for doing this.

24
Melessa
February 17th, 2007
11:18 am

I try to do these regularly, but I will do just about anything for a new blog button which means I will have to do this five more times on the 17th.

25
Charlotte Scott
February 23rd, 2007
12:15 pm

Hello,

My name is Charlotte Scott and I am a fourth year thesis student from Trent University. I am currently completing my honours thesis in psychology under the supervision of Drs. Leslie Kerr and Elaine Scharfe. We have just recently started a large on-line Canadian study examining health and relationships for breast cancer survivors. This study is funded by the Canadian Breast Cancer Research Alliance. I would like to let the members of your group’s discussion board know about the study. We would greatly appreciate it if you could help us by posting a copy of the information below on your group’s discussion board.

Thank you.
Charlotte Scott

We are currently conducting a study looking at the links between breast cancer survivors’ general relationship approaches, their support behaviours in relationships, and their overall well-being. The study can be done on-line and would take about an hour of your time. If you would prefer we could mail the questionnaires to you.

Once you have completed the survey, we will give you the opportunity to invite members of your family to participate. We hope that you will invite members of your family to take part in this study as we are interested their general relationship approaches, their support behaviours in relationships, and their overall well-being. If you invite them to participate they will complete the same questionnaires as you completed and will also be asked about their view of your general relationship approaches. It is important that you know that at no time will your family members be able to see or will know your answers in the questionnaire and likewise, you will not be able to see or know their answers. It is completely your choice to invite your family members or not – you can participate with or without inviting other members of your family.

This study is funded by the Canadian Breast Cancer Research Alliance.

For more information about the study and to register to participate, please go to: http://www.healthandrelationships.ca

If you would prefer to receive your questionnaires through the mail, please email: breasthealth@trentu.ca

Thank you!

Dr. Leslie Kerr, Trent University, lkerr@trentu.ca or (705) 748-1011 ext.7435
Dr. Elaine Scharfe, Trent University, escharfe@trentu.ca or (705) 748-1011 ext.1354

26
Pam
July 17th, 2007
8:47 pm

I’ve checked recently and had my annual exam at the Dr.s, which meant a mammogram as well. Something small showed up in my left breast. I was then sent for an ultrasound. I now have to see a general surgeon on Aug. 7. I think a biopsy is coming next, not sure. My family has a huge history of breast cancer and my best friend just had a double mastectomy this month. So please, ladies, check and go to your annual mammograms, realizing that self exams are necessary because you know your breasts and can detect any changes in them.

27
Karla
August 22nd, 2007
1:29 pm

Thanks for the reminder! My mom was diagnosed with BC 3 years ago. It was a very difficult time for our family. It’s hard to feel lumps when you’re breastfeeding, but I do them anyway. {{{HUGS}}} Karla in El Paso

28
La La
September 19th, 2007
6:25 pm

I did my self exam last week, found a dense spot, went to doctor yesterday and have an ultrasound scheduled for next Wednesday. I had no idea you were doing this. Everywhere I’ve turned in the last week has been about breasts. I’m a little scared. Okay, a lot scared.

29
Dr Jeff Aitkin
October 21st, 2007
1:37 am

This is a topic that is very close to my heart. A very dear friend of mine died in recent years of cancer, and she was quite young, only 33. I have been looking into some new research completed by Newcastle University in Australia that was published this year on breast cancer and melanoma. If you know someone who is affected by cancer or yourself you might like to read some of the details on http://www.mc-s.com.au, or locate the site via search in google for ‘metabolic cell support’. Thank you.

30
Holy Mama! » Club 17, December Edition
December 17th, 2007
6:34 am

[...] 17th of each month is special here, because y’all faithfully do your BSE’s and say you did in the comments. THen one of you who did just that receives a fantastical prize in [...]

31
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