Author Judy Blume reveals she had a mastectomy after being diagnosed with breast cancer
Blume shared her story in a post titled "!@#$% Happens" on Wednesday, one month after she underwent surgery for the disease.
The author explained that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer on June 12 after a routine ultrasound of her dense breast tissue suggested the need for a core biopsy. She admitted initially that she was planning on putting off the biopsy because she was supposed to go on a 5-week vacation in Italy, but the doctor convinced her that she should have the procedure done. A few days later, the biopsy report came back.
"It was good that I wasn't alone and that she, who has been my doctor for seventeen years, could explain it to me," Blume wrote. "Very early. Very small. Well differentiated. All good news. But it was invasive ductal carcinoma."
Invasive ductal carcinoma, also known as infiltrating ductal carcinoma, is the most common form of breast cancer, accounting for about 8 out of 10 patients according to the American Cancer Society. In these cases, the cancer began in the milk ducts and has spread to surrounding breast tissues. Eventually, this form of cancer can move to other parts of the body.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 210,203 women in the U.S. were diagnosed with breast cancer and 40,589 women died from the disease in 2008, the most recent year that statistics are available for.
Risk factors for developing breast cancer include being a woman, genetic factors, family history and aging. About 2 out of 3 women with invasive breast cancer are 55 or older when diagnosed, the American Cancer Society said.
But besides the two risk factors of having dense breast tissue and being 74, Blume said she had no family history or genetic connection to the disease.
"I haven't eaten red meat in more than 30 years," she added. "I've never smoked, I exercise every day, forget alcohol - it's bad for my reflux - I've been the same weight my whole adult life. How is this possible? Well, guess what - it's possible."
She was given several options for treatment including a lumpectomy followed by radiation or a mastectomy with or without reconstruction. After consulting with her cardiologist and her gynecologist, she opted to get a single mastectomy with reconstruction. Due to her A-cup sized breasts, she said the decision wasn't that difficult to make, adding that small breast tissue made her similar to her much-loved character Margaret Simon from "Are You There God, It's Me Margaret?"
Finally, she urged women like her with dense breast tissue to ask their radiologists about getting a sonogram. Blume herself had routine mammograms and physical exams four times a year, but because her cancer was so small it wasn't detected by traditional tests. She also thanked her husband and friends for their support.
"As I've told my friends who've also been treated for breast cancer, I've joined The Club - not one I wanted to join or even thought I would ever be joining - but here I am," she said. "I'm part of this Sisterhood of the Traveling Breast Cells (apologies to Ann Brashares). Medical diagnoses can leave you feeling alone and scared. When it comes to breast cancer you're not alone, and scary though it is, there's a network of amazing women to help you through it."
Popular in Health
- Once obese dachshund gets surgery to remove excess skin
- Surgeons remove 4-pound hairball from tiger 10 Photos
- Surgeons remove 4-pound hairball from 400-pound tiger
- Cause of Alabama mystery illness cluster determined
- Skin cancer self-exam: What to look for (PHOTOS)
- Feet come first when it comes to body parts with most fungi
- Heartburn raises throat cancer risk but antacids may help
- Molecule may be able to block cocaine addiction