Breast Cancer Scare

This past Monday as I was getting ready for bed, I noticed a spot on my breast, a little smaller than my pinky fingernail. It was blood-red, with a tiny dark brown spot in the middle. I hadn’t seen it before, and it was very visible. My first thought was, “Could it be that breast cancer I blogged about a few months ago?” So I went to the computer and looked up that post, because I couldn’t even remember the name: Inflammatory Breast Cancer. I watched the video I linked to, and then looked up pictures, signs, and symptoms of IBC.  I thought that this picture looked like what my spot might grow to in a couple of days or weeks, so was understandably concerned. While I didn’t have the inverted nipple, and my spot was very small compared to these pictures, the signs and symptoms of IBC said that many cases start out with women thinking they got an insect bite or had a breast infection like mastitis. Many women go to doctors only too late (when it is obvious that something is terribly wrong); but many doctors dismiss the problem, and treat the “infection” with antibiotics, or the “spider bite” or “bug bite” with hydrocortisone. IBC is relatively rare, accounting for only 1-5% of all breast cancers, and many doctors never see a case of it, only learning about it briefly in med school. This delay in treatment (sometimes 4-6 weeks, waiting for the antibiotics to cure the infection that never was) can be deadly, because IBC is very agressive, and 60% of its victims do not survive 5 years past diagnosis.

So, learning all of that, I determined to call a doctor within the next day or two and demand a biopsy of this spot. In the meantime, I loaded up on vitamins, especially vitamin C (I took a handful before going to bed that night, and I think I took some 10,000-12,000 mg that next day).

There were many possibilities other than IBC, that I considered: bug bite (but I didn’t feel anything, it didn’t itch, and it wasn’t raised), spider bite (I know not all spider bites are painful and most don’t itch — the presence of the brown dot made me think it might have been the precise location of the bite), pimple (except it didn’t hurt, and I couldn’t feel anything that seemed like the pus of a pimple), impacted hair follicle (but again, no pain and no pus — and no hair, for that matter, but I do have an odd hair that grows under my chin, so I know that hairs can grow in weird places), friction from my very supportive bra (in combination with exercising — jumping jacks might cause a blood vessel to pop in my extra-large bust?), or being struck by something and not recalling it (I had done some weedeating earlier in the day, and it’s possible a rock got slung out and hit me — I remember some hitting my legs, but don’t think it could get as high as my chest).

I watched the spot all day long, and it seemed to be getting a little fainter — and certainly not larger. I noticed the brown spot in the middle had disappeared. I also put hydrogen peroxide on it, in case it was a topical something. It made the spot tingle, as if the skin had been broken. The next day, I continued the high doses of vitamin C and frequent applications of hydrogen peroxide, and the spot was noticeably fainter, though still the same size.

Today, it looks like an old scar — almost like a pock mark from chicken pox. I’m still taking extra vitamin C, but not as much as I did that first day. I still don’t know what it is, but I do know that if it didn’t make this drastic improvement, I wouldn’t have waited around 4-6 weeks to see if it would go away!

Inflammatory breast cancer is very aggressive; I would have called yesterday insisting on an appointment today if it hadn’t noticeably improved as it did. If you’ve got a weird spot on your breast, don’t wait around several weeks seeing if it will go away. At least get a biopsy. What if you’re wrong? Well then, you got a biopsy done on a pimple or heat rash. But if you’re right, you may have just saved your life!

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