Hello from Torquay, Victoria – Surf Capital of Australia, Doorway to the Great Ocean Road!
I haven’t, up until this point, shared with you much about myself in my newsletter articles.
Yes, you may have read my story online, but honestly, I haven’t opened up to the private challenges of MY life that fills me with uncertainty and profound fear.
Let me change that!
Last October, I started experiencing radiating pain through my left nipple. It came on slowly as did the swelling. I noticed the pain during and after exercise (lifting weights, bike riding, paddling). Overnight, my bra felt unbearably tight such that at every opportunity I unclipped it! Over a matter of weeks, as the pain took hold, I resorted to anti-inflammatory tabs and lotion to help settle things.
It crossed my mind I might be having a bloody heart attack!
Coincidently, a couple of months prior, I’d published my article on ‘How To Be Proactive In Your Breast Health‘. Many, if not ALL of the protocols I refer to in this article I’d put into practice for over a decade.
I’d transitioned into menopause some years prior. The shift of hormones evident in my changing body shape could NOT be ignored.
So to say I went into in a tailspin would have been an understatement!
Friends, work colleagues, physicians, brave women all of them from around the globe write to me daily sharing their mighty battle with BC. On this particular occasion, it felt like the Universe was communicating directly with me as, that week, I received no less than 3 letters from women diagnosed with breast cancer, and their stories, while so, so tragic, absolutely terrified me!
I couldn’t get BC out of my thoughts. It pervaded my every waking moment and fitful sleep. My life, or a bleak version of what my life MIGHT become, played itself out like a movie in my imagination. As if the Universe was responding to my thoughts, my heightened awareness of BC brought into my reality, everywhere I looked, validation of it.
The conundrum was, from where I stood, how much information do I WANT. And what will I do with that info, once I got it. What sort of treatment would I agree to if it was BC? And could I maybe do nothing at all, rather get proactive and address the things I could change / improve on?
My husband was there holding my hand, but I chose not to tell my daughters or family what might be going on.
I have a GP, a female doctor I’ve been seeing for 20 years, whom I don’t see often because, hey, I aim to stay well! Made sense though on this occasion to get her to feel my breasts for any obvious lumps. She didn’t find any but suggested I go get a mammogram just to be ‘safe’.
Now I’m no fan of mammography. Had one done 20 years ago after I discovered a lump in my breast when complying with synthetic HRT. The discovery of progesterone cream and strategies on how to balance my hormones nagivated me out of trouble waters. The lump mysteriously disappeared. Having done the research on the pros and cons of mammograms, I continue to let my intuition guide me. And my higher self to this day silently whispers to me “No! No! No!”.
I felt drawn to thermography and its ability to detect the possibility of breast cancer much earlier because it can, I’m told, image the early stages of angiogenesis. I didn’t think twice. I bundled myself off to Melbourne to meet up with Sue Wright and have my breasts photographed, and compared with images taken several years earlier (Yes, yes, I appreciate how slack I’d been not making the time to get an annual scan/snapshot of my breasts!).
I kid you not, that same week, I received the following letter from a lady in the US aged between 60-69 who wrote:
Am I struggling? Yes. My question is in regard to thermography. First, a little history: I was diagnosed with “breast cancer” in 2007. I felt a lump for a long time, which I felt was scar tissue from an earlier bx. I had a thermogram in 2006, which was said to be negative and that my breasts were overstimulated with estrogen products. I was told to quit soy. I did. The lump was felt by my doctor in 2007. I had a mammogram and a needle biopsy which showed positive for cancer. I eventually had a lumpectomy and then a mastectomy because the margins showed tiny satellite tumors (not seen on MRI).
Interestingly, the 10-slide random study on the tumor tissue was 0/10 positive for mitotic activity. How can the thermogram be negative, the needle biopsy positive and the 10-slide random study negative? In my gut I feel that I was misdiagnosed. Is this possible? One doctor told me that it was just slow growing. My doctor is now pressuring me to have a mammogram. I had a thermogram recently, which showed a level 3 and was told not to worry, just come back in six months.
Now I’m confused by all the negative press about the “hukster” nature of thermograms. I am quite anxious now that I may be doing the wrong thing by not having a mammogram. I have a very healthy lifestyle, diet, exercise, no smoking… But now I’m worried about this. Your article Thermography & Breast Health Awareness says: Advances in infrared technology combined with data on 300,000 women with mammotherms document that breast thermography is highly sensitive and accurate. Today, this means that more than 95 percent of breast cancers can be identified, and that this is done with 90 percent accuracy.
I am desperately looking for research to support my decision to go with thermogram vs. mammogram. The naysayers continually say that there is no scientific evidence that thermography is valid. Can you help me? – Christine
So here I was having this up close and personal dance with what may or may not be BC. And Christine’s personal account
First question I asked myself was this. Was my progesterone lotion conferring protection? Meaning, was the amount of circulating progesterone at cellular level sitting in the “butter zone” (progesterone to estradiol | 200:1)?
Only one way to check. Take a home saliva test and see for myself.
As it turned out, my progesterone levels were way above the 200:1 range but my morning Cortisol was high, my Melatonin low. E1 (estrone) was low, while E2 (estradiol), E3 (estriol), DHEA and testosterone were all within ‘healthy’ ranges.
Despite E3 being within “healthy” range. it was still low in relation to estrogen quotient EQ = E3 / (E1 + E2). We know that if a woman’s EQ is low, her risk of breast cancer is higher. Basically, the higher the EQ, the better.
But here’s the thing about our hormones … they change A LOT … in a small window of time.
Exactly one month later, my E1 is now HIGH. E2 had dropped really low. Estriol levels had come up (because I was rubbing on estriol lotion), cortisol was now within limits, but all those sleepless nights had my melatonin reading as low. Progesterone level was high.
Thermography results suggested I was “low risk”, a case of wait and watch. There HAD been some small changes to my breast versus those taken seven years before, but it remained to be seen what had caused it.
Which leads me to what I THINK is going on ...
I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia some 25 years ago. Expert Dr Geoffrey Littlejohn made that diagnosis. Back then it costs me my job. I’d just had my 3rd baby and letting pain rule my life wasn’t an option. This set back was, in part, a driver to why today I seek “wellness” and not let a diagnosis dictate what my future will look like.
Anyway back to my story. I’m choosing to believe I have a curable case of Costochondritis (kos-toe-kon-DRY-tis) – an inflammation of the cartilage that connects a rib to the breastbone. Hard to know if it was because of a trauma to my chest wall (I was doing some crazy ‘extreme’ outrigger canoeing around then) or it could have been related to a viral infection. I noted that this condition can occur as a feature of more generalized diseases of inflammation such as fibromyalgia.
It’s now February 2016, and while breast pain still comes and goes, I’m more out of pain than troubled by it. Makes sense to take 12 months away from canoeing in the ocean to give my body time it needs to heal. And I’ve taken huge steps to address stressors in my life.
Just how reliable are routine thermography & mammogram screenings, and is one more accurate than the other?
We’ll aim to have that conversation with leaders in the field in 2016 so that women like Christine and me, and women riding that rollercoaster with us, glean a degree of comfort and direction, because what’s being offered to women right now just doesn’t feel “right”.
The medical community prides itself on evidence to drive important decision-making. But when the evidence is contrary to entrenched medical practice, it has a hard time coming to terms. Such is the case for mammography recommendations. All of the data now available point to significant net harm — far more risk than benefit — for routine mammography. If this were a drug, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would never approve it. Last year (2014), the Swiss Medical Board, after reviewing all of the data, recommended abolishing mammography. – Dr Eric J. Topol, Editorin-Chief, Medscape
Mammography screening. It doesn’t prolong life but may make a healthy woman ill by over diagnosis / incorrect diagnosis (and lead to premature death because of radiotherapy and chemotherapy). – Dr. Peter Gotzsche, co-founder of the Cochrane Collaboration (the world’s foremost body in assessing medical evidence)
My Promise to You!
In my newsletter ‘Hormony Harmony‘, my authority site/blog Natural-Progesterone-Advisory-Network.com and the series of Self-Help $9.95 Consumer Guides, I will do my very best to tell you about things that I know are true. If I’m not sure, I’ll say so. And wherever possible I will try to check things out for myself.
Until next time – be well!
In love & appreciation,
Catherine P. Rollins
Founder & CEO