I am Lisa. UBCF is a life line to women like me. I’m 52 years of age with fibrocystic breasts. I have no access to appropriate health care, nor the financial means to keep up with the rounds of constant tests prescribed whenever I go for preventative check ups. My story is common for one with fibrocystic dense breast tissue.
Diagnosed in my late 20’s with fibrocystic breasts, I spent years being put through series of repeated mammograms, aspiration of cysts, threatened biopsies, and needless days and nights of living in fear, all because of my breasts composition. Feeling constantly toxic, not supported, not understood and financially drained from trying to do the right thing and seek routine checkups, I finally just stopped going. I continued with self, home exams, but feared it wasn’t enough. Years passed and I started listening to my body and paying attention what I could do to help it become better. I stopped wearing underwire bras, changed to a healthier diet and the cysts disappeared. I got married, had a child when I was 41, breast fed long term, and my breasts were still doing great void of cysts.
In the last couple of years, however, I passed through menopause and started noticing changes with my body. When my right breast had changed in shape, felt different and sometimes ached yet I couldn’t really feel the tell tale characteristics of an cancer lump, I felt concerned. Also during this period in my life, my parents passed away, which made me seriously think about my health since I had a young child to raise. I started feeling like I should again be having routine checkups, other than my own self exams each month. Additionally, I am adopted, so I have no known family history. Thinking a bench mark in my early 50’s would be the responsible thing to do, I decided to once again have a formal breast exam, which in my very rural area, means a mammogram.
What was I thinking? Foolishly, I thought it’d come out better than my past history with mammograms. It did not. After three mammograms, and an ultrasound, still they couldn’t decided if I was healthy or not due to dense breast tissue. I was instructed to come back for a fourth mammogram and plan to continue having them on 6 month intervals for 1 or 2 years. I was sick with fear. Life was repeating itself. My body had been through so many mammograms already from my 20’s and 30’s, I was not going to allow that to happen again. Besides, We are a single income family, with very little insurance, of which only covers a single annual mammogram and absolutely no diagnostic testing or follow ups. With well over $1000.00 in bills already accumulated from my routine checkup, I just walked away in complete and utter hopelessness.
Sadly, all of the tests from my 20’s have been destroyed by the facility without notifying me of their policy to only keep records for 6 years. So, I have no references and no bench mark. A friend mentioned infrared exams. After some research, it was clear this was friendlier for my type of breasts and might be a way to check on my health. The only facility near me is 100 miles away from my home. My insurance will not accept infrared exams as my annual checkup. So, the cost is completely out my pocket. I am totally unsupported. Even my doctor admitted knowing very little about infrared, refused to read up on it and instead keeps pushing me to just have a mammogram, and accept my fate knowing my body type will require repeated rounds of testing every year at my own expense, physically and financially. Once again, I was in total and utter despair.
Finally, I reached out to the infrared facility for information on how it all worked, trying to find some hope. The lovely woman at the infrared facility gave me hope and more. She confirmed my research, shared her personal story which is very similar to mine, which is what drove her to start the infrared company. And, most importantly, this woman told me about United Breast Cancer Foundation and your grants which help women like me. With your financial help, I was able to get my baseline with an initial infrared exam and a 3 month followup. I not only created a clear baseline, but also gained reassurance that my $1000 plus round of testing was indeed a phantom chase, just like my long ago past. I now have an option that feels better to me as a routine check up.
Without UBCF, I would still be living in fear, isolation and hopelessness. Thanks to UBCF, I have a safe, supportive method for health checks that works for my breasts.