Nearly 282,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year according to Cancer.org.
Breast cancer has many different symptoms that can range from lumps to swelling of the skin.
Connie Busch, the lead mammographer at Trinity Health, said when it comes to breast cancer, many women only think about symptoms involving breast tissue.
“You know, you might have a lump inside your axilla, or your underarm, that could actually be a breast abnormality,” said Connie Busch. “But, they might not necessarily, automatically think of it as a breast abnormality.”
Kristia Griggs is a survivor of breast cancer whose only symptom was a soreness under her arm.
“[I] called the doctor and told them that my armpit hurt,” she said. “I actually felt dumb just calling and saying my armpit hurt. So I went in and they told me, first of all, don’t worry cause cancer doesn’t hurt so you should be okay.”
She had a diagnostic mammogram.
“Diagnostic mammogram is different than a screening,” said Busch. “So diagnostic means the patient has some sort of a symptom of breast cancer which might be a breast lump, tenderness, discharge, swelling.”
After the mammogram, Griggs found out she had breast cancer.
“The mammogram came back with a very small spot that they thought could remove with just a lumpectomy, but during the lumpectomy, they found out that it had spread through the whole breast so I had to have a breast removed,” said Griggs.
Griggs did radiation for a few months and was cancer-free in July of 2011, but she continued chemotherapy for six more years.
She has advice for people who may not take annual screenings seriously.
“Check yourself all the time,” said Griggs. “Something small could be the biggest thing ever and make sure you get checked cause it did save my life.”
Busch said people experiencing symptoms should call their health care provider for questions they might have about symptoms and mammograms.
“We can schedule the patient for that and then obtain the order from their physician to do that exam,” said Busch.
Griggs said she was able to lean on her support system and encourages those in treatment.
“Don’t give up,” she said. “There’s a great support system out there and everybody wants to help you.”
If you would like to set up a Mammogram at Trinity Health, call 701-857-2640. If you’re in Williston, call 701-774-0810.