I found the lump. I was not looking for it, but I knew something was wrong with my breast. Over a period of several months, I noticed subtle changes in the shape of my breast. At times, it felt heavy and ached. Then an obvious lump appeared. I ignored it at first, convinced it was a cyst and would go away. It didn’t go away. I had never had a mammogram, which may seem remiss for an obstetrician-gynecologist (I’ll save that discussion for another time.) Even with what turned out to be a 4.7 cm tumor, my mammogram was read as essentially normal, just dense breasts. The biopsy, done several days later, was not normal. It was cancer.
I thought I was healthy. I was 44 years old. I enjoy exercise. I swim, bike and run. I ski both downhill and cross country. I do pilates and yoga. I am not overweight, do not smoke, and eat a reasonably healthy diet. And yet, despite all that, in February of 2013, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.
How could this happen? I certainly never expected it would happen to me. But it did. While I will always wish that this had never happened, my diagnosis has given me a new perspective. I have been able to look at my lifestyle, make some necessary changes, and reexamine my role as a physician.