My Breast Cancer Scare
Last updated: August 2023
I recently noticed some changes on my right breast. Of course, as soon as I noticed this, my heart sank and my mind went into overdrive assuming the worst-case scenario – I must have breast cancer!
The changes for me were an extremely itchy nipple and areola (the ring of skin around the nipple), to begin with I didn’t pay too much attention to it as it wasn’t bothering me that much and it seemed to come and go. I looked it up on the internet and it seemed pretty normal and such causes are usually hormonal or allergens, so I assumed this was most likely the case.
A few weeks passed by, and the itching was becoming more intense, and the skin was starting to look red and patchy, and this is when I started to panic. I made an appointment with my doctor straight away. I was seen immediately, and she examined me. I think she was trying to reassure me, and she said it was most likely nothing to worry about, however there she informed that there is a type of breast cancer called Pagets Diseasen that affects the nipple area and as a precaution she would refer me to the Breast Care Clinic.
I live in England, and we are incredibly fortunate to have the NHS and as a rule they have to refer you within 2 weeks of being seen by your doctor if there is any possible chance of having cancer.
Fearing breast cancer
I was especially anxious because breast cancer runs on both sides of my family. I have cousins who have survived very aggressive forms of it at young ages, and I'm 44. I figured, perhaps, it had come knocking on my door.
The day arrived for me to go to the clinic and feeling very nervous I started off with a consultation and examination with a doctor who was so kind. She asked me lots of questions and she was particularly interested in me having lupus, and she explained to me that it can affect the breasts. This was something that I had never heard of before. I guessed it made sense because as us lupus warriors know too well that the disease can strike almost anywhere in the body.
I was sent for a mammogram (a scan of the breast) and after this I was told to wait for the results. It was really quite daunting sitting in the waiting room. I was still convinced at this point that bad news was coming my way and I was bracing myself for it.
The lupus connection
I was taken for an ultrasound scan which looked right behind the nipple. I was even more convinced that they must have found something at this stage. It was another awful wait but finally after all that time I was told it was actually lupus causing my symptoms! I can’t begin to tell you the relief I felt. I was told that lupus was causing the thickening patches of skin and inflammation along with the itching in that area.
I felt incredibly blessed that it was nothing more sinister, but it’s also made me aware of how the disease seems to be invading my skin on a large scale now although admittedly it’s probably the only time I’ve been glad that it’s been lupus!
I would say to anyone who may have the slightest of changes with their breasts to always go and get it checked out immediately. In many situations it turns out to be nothing to worry about, but it’s always best to be on the safe side.
How are you most likely to respond when someone offers you unsolicited advice about your lupus?