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Friday, January 8, 2010

Betrayed By My Breasts -- Part II

I needed to find someone else like me.  Not just any other survivor, I specifically searched for other breastfeeding counselors or lactation consultants, who survived breast cancer.

I felt there was something special, and ironic, about being a breastfeeding counselor and having breast cancer.

Surely, someone who spends so much of her time talking about breasts, and handling breasts, must have a particularly hard time dealing with breast cancer.

I worried about my ability to continue counseling breastfeeding mothers.  Would I be able to provide the same level of support?  Should I resign, as a La Leche League leader, from our local organization?

I was not ready to close off that part of my life.

I spoke with other leaders from my area.  They encouraged me to listen to my heart, and embraced me when I chose to stay.

Today, I still sit on our area council and assist in our local district.  I also continue to counsel mothers by phone and in person.

Other leaders, who know me, know that I have breast cancer.  I do not share that information with the mothers I help.

I never did find another breastfeeding counselor with whom to share my experiences.

That need passed.

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,


Mindy said...

I am so glad you continue to encourage breast feeding mothers through your service. You represent a very unfortunate woman who went against statistics. You may feel betrayed, but you still have very valuable wisdom and experience to pass on.

Unknown said...

I think it's very important for women to know that ANY woman can get breast cancer... even the supermoms who breastfeed all of their children for many years. It's not your burden to have to share that with anyone - of course - unless that's what you choose to do.

One of the things that is scary for me is the idea of never finding the opportunity to get properly examined for breast cancer due to either being pregnant and/or breastfeeding constantly for the past 10 years.

Warmest thoughts & prayers to you RivkA!

RivkA with a capital A said...

Momma Mindy -- that's why I chose to continue. sometimes it's a bit challenging, emotionally. but it is worth it.

Erika -- I also was either pregnant or breastfeeding (or both) for almost ten years. But, once I hit 35, I went for ultrasounds and mammograms twice a year, as well as for manual checkups with a surgeon, who specialized in breast cancer.

The radiologist and surgeon were experienced enough to be able check me thoroughly, even when I was lactating. During that time, we actually found and removed a tumor. It was benign.

Unknown said...

Thank you for sharing that imprtant info, RivkA! I should do that next year when I be"H turn 35.

Anonymous said...

What do you think about the new recommendations of not gettig checked until you are 50? They now recommend NOT doing self manual checks for lumps.

RivkA with a capital A said...

Erika -- I started early because of my family history.

Ariela -- I've read some articles about the subject. My gut says they are wrong.

All women should be checking their breasts regularly, and looking for CHANGES, not necessarily lumps.

I have heard so many stories of women finding their cancers early that way.

Perhaps it's true that some women are treated unnecessarily, but what about the women whose lives are saved by it? Those women are more to their families than a simple statistic.

Anonymous said...

someone I know has been a radiologist for many, many years. He once mentioned (in a group setting, so i didn't get all the details) that research has been showing increasing evidence of the dangers associated with radiation from mammograms,and that is one of the factors in the decision (right or wrong) to lessen women's exposure to the procedure.
unfortunately there's no perfect solution to the risk/benefit equation :-(
i was told that the fact that my grandmother (therefore a 2nd degree relation) having had breast cancer (albeit at an advanved age)doesn't increase my risk. but who knows? my gut feeling is "how could it not?"

love and other positive thoughts going your way
BW :^>

RivkA with a capital A said...

BW -- The issue is complex.

The answer to your question about your family history is that one grandmother does not put you in the high risk category for several reasons:

1. if there was a genetic link, there would almost definitely be more than one family member who had cancer

2. the older we get, the more at risk we are for cancer -- again, there is no indication that cancer in an older woman has a genetic component