Doctors urge women to be ‘breast aware’
Natasha Younger was in a boxing class when she first noticed something was different, but she let it go for about a month.
Younger remembers the dreams that haunted her after she noticed unusual pain in her breast. She started seeing her fiancé raising her two daughters without her and knew it was time to go to the doctor to get things checked out.
After finding numerous lumps and undergoing numerous biopsies, Younger got the news she feared most: it was breast cancer.
At the time of her diagnosis in 2013, Younger was in her late 20s at the time and had no direct family history of breast cancer.
“You’re just bad luck just because there’s no reason for it, for my cancer,” Younger said her doctors told her.
Dr. Lee Wilke is the director of the UW Breast Center and said while for years medical professionals have been stressing monthly breast exams, she now urges constant “breast awareness.”
“We certainly change our clothes every day, get in the shower every day, and can be breast aware that there’s something new or different that’s problematic,” Wilke said.
While some, like Younger, notice a lump, Wilke said there are other important signs.
“Being breast aware, however, is also being aware of the skin, the nipple, is there any retraction, are there changes in the skin, color changes, new areas of pain that might not have been there before and are not normal during a regular cycle,” Wilke said.
Wilke said monthly exams are still highly encouraged for high-risk patients, such as women with a strong family history of breast cancer or who are known carriers of the common mutations.
“For the average population, I think being breast aware is very important,” Wilke said.
Younger went through chemotherapy and radiation. She eventually had to undergo a mastectomy, and her body rejected the implant.
“It was almost worse than actually being diagnosed because it was, you know, like waking up and I have nothing,” Younger said.
Since then, she’s had reconstructive surgery and is cancer free, and is happy to be living a healthy life with her girls.
“Follow your gut, whatever you’re thinking inside, make sure you speak up to those doctors and tell them, ‘No, this is what I need,'” Younger said.
Stay with WISC-TV3’s Buddy Check 3 for reminders and updates on breast cancer awareness.