It’s not just a cliche saying, as I have learnt through personal experience, regular screening and Early detection is the key to prevention and timely intervention. Diagnosed with Breast Cancer in March, 2012, I was shell shocked. I had no symptoms whatsoever, except for a rash which came and went. Fortunately for me, I had been going for regular mammograms for a few years because two of my maternal aunts had breast cancer. Still, I had missed one year of this regular checkup. What was even more shocking was the fact that although there was a ‘Benign’ calcification showing up in my earlier mammograms, the centre I was going to for my scans did not recommend any further testing and my gynaecologist did not advise me to see an Oncologist.
Fortunately for me again, the year that I was diagnosed, I had gone to another hospital for a mammogram which did point out that something was not quite right. Please be aware about the infrastructure/technology being used when you get yourself screened and whether you are following the correct screening protocol taking into account your risk factors and age.
I was extremely fortunate also that Dr. Sameer Kaul’s (Sr. Consultant, Surgical Oncology, Apollo Cancer Institute, Delhi/Onkaulogy Kombine) diagnosis was spot on and he started my treatment without losing even one day.
I have lost two close family members to cancer in these last four years, both of whom were diagnosed at Stage IV. The symptoms were there but cancer was diagnosed much later, and often confused with their other health problems. With cancer assuming almost epidemic proportions, (Five people with different cancers in my own immediate family!) it’s becoming increasingly important to be aware of the symptoms, be proactive about your health, go to an Oncologist if you have any doubt at all. Looking back in hindsight, I have thought so many times that it’s always better to overreact than not act at all! When I was diagnosed it was at stage II-A. If it had been detected even earlier, I would have saved myself the eight cycles of chemotherapy, radiation and saved my family all the hassle and heartache.