Now I Know - and So Do You

These are not my words.  They are the words of WhyMommy who has a toddler and a baby and inflammatory breast cancer.  She writes here.

She's asked other writers to spread the word about IBC, and since I can't do her words justice here is the information in her own words.

(Thanks for educating us WhyMommy.  Be well.)

We hear a lot about breast cancer these days. One in eight women
will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetimes, and there are
millions living with it in the U.S. today alone. But did you know that
there is more than one type of breast cancer?

I didn’t. I thought that breast cancer was all the same. I figured that if I did my monthly breast self-exams, and found no lump, I’d be fine.

Oops. It turns out that you don’t have to have a lump to have breast cancer.
Six weeks ago, I went to my OB/GYN because my breast felt funny. It was
red, hot, inflamed, and the skin looked…funny. But there was no lump,
so I wasn’t worried. I should have been. After a round of antibiotics
didn’t clear up the inflammation, my doctor sent me to a breast
specialist and did a skin punch biopsy. That test showed that I have
inflammatory breast cancer, a very aggressive cancer that can be deadly.

Inflammatory breast cancer
is often misdiagnosed as mastitis because many doctors have never seen
it before and consider it rare. “Rare” or not, there are over 100,000
women in the U.S. with this cancer right now; only half will survive
five years. Please call your OB/GYN if you experience several of the
following symptoms in your breast, or any unusual changes: redness,
rapid increase in size of one breast, persistent itching of breast or
nipple, thickening of breast tissue, stabbing pain, soreness, swelling
under the arm, dimpling or ridging (for example, when you take your bra
off, the bra marks stay – for a while), flattening or retracting of the
nipple, or a texture that looks or feels like an orange (called peau
d’orange). Ask if your GYN is familiar with inflammatory breast cancer,
and tell her that you’re concerned and want to come in to rule it out.

There is more than one kind of breast cancer. Inflammatory breast cancer is the most aggressive form of breast cancer out
there, and early detection is critical. It’s not usually detected by
mammogram. It does not usually present with a lump. It may be
overlooked with all of the changes that our breasts undergo during the
years when we’re pregnant and/or nursing our little ones. It’s
important not to miss this one.

Inflammatory breast cancer is detected by women and their doctors
who notice a change in one of their breasts. If you notice a change,
call your doctor today. Tell her about it. Tell her that you have a
friend with this disease, and it’s trying to kill her. Now you know
what I wish I had known before six weeks ago.

You don’t have to have a lump to have breast cancer.