LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — For decades, the guideline for most women to start getting screened for breast cancer starts at 40 years old.
But many women who are getting diagnosed with cancer are much younger than that.
The woman you’ll meet in this story said she has no family history of breast cancer, no genetic markers, and is young, in her early 30s.
She got a mammogram to check on a benign cyst she’s had since she was a teenager. However, it wasn’t a screening that caught her cancer, but something she did herself.
She knew she had cancer after feeling a hard pea-sized lump in her breast, but just two months earlier, her mammogram was clear.
“I can positively say, I’m a key witness to it, that self-breast exams saved my life,” said Dr. Lightning.
Dr. Lightning is a primary care physician with her own practice, so she knows the importance of routine screenings. But at 33, with no family history or genetic markers, there was really no need for a mammogram.
However, once she felt that lump, it turned her world upside down.
“From the time that I had my first appointment with oncologists to the time I actually started chemotherapy, my breast tumor doubled in size,” she said.
The diagnosis was ductal carcinoma, an aggressive and fast-growing breast cancer. She took to sharing her journey on social media, starting with chemotherapy and losing her hair before heading straight to surgery for a double mastectomy.
The next step on Dr. Lightning’s journey, she said, is reconstructive surgery.
“The key to survival and not dying from it is catching it early and starting treatment early,” said Dr. Lightning.
She said she wants to warn other women not to ignore their own bodies.
“It’s worth it, it’s worth your life, it’s worth your health,” she said.