Dec 7, 2010 07:10AM - edited Aug 20, 2013 03:20AM by Sable43
I was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer in August 2009 and I live in the metro/ DC area. Maybe I could answer some of the questions you posed; from my own perspective and life situation. I'm currently dealing with weight gain, joint pain, hair thinning, and neuropathy ( some of the residual effects left over from my last chemo. tx.) I never expected to hear that I had breast cancer when I went in for my routine exam. The thing that really disgusted me, is that my previous exam was read by a (female!) radiologist who assured me that she saw two benign cysts and made the recommendation that I return in a year. If she had just suggested that I get a second opinion, I can't help but wonder if my cancer could've been caught at an earlier stage. In the end, I lost my left breast.
Part of me wonders if doctors take black women seriously when we do complain. For several months, I complained of a sharp, stabbing pain near my left nipple. I was told time after time after that initial exam, to wait until my next mammogram because the docs didn't feel anything during my office visits. For the record, neither did I. I'm not that well endowed and was told that I have dense breast. I truly believe that we aren't given the recommendation for second opinions when a suspicious lump is detected.
I also believe that financial costs or insurance coverage ( lack of ) poses problems. My insurance didn't want to cover the cost of my mammogram because it was submitted as routine instead of a follow up. It was during my routine visit that another radiologist ( a man!) suggested I get another opinion.
When I encouraged my friends ( many of them black women over 40 ) to have their mammograms; only a handful said they would. Some of them verbally told me, they'd rather not know. Didn't want to lose their hair or their breast; they felt fine though many are overweight, one is diabetic, a few have high blood pressure; many don't trust doctors. These excuses anger me.
I hate the way I look; severely depressed. I'm fat, my hair has been reduced to dry, lifeless threads on my head and my husband no longer looks at me or touches me the way I want him to. I'm here for my children. I'm alive but not living. I've completed chemo. and radiation; I'm in remission. I know I should be grateful for existing and I know that God does have a plan for me; He has plans for all of us. I'm still finding my way back.