In July 2016, at the ripe old age of 27, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I first noticed a lump in my breast in early June while I was performing a breast self-examination. Initially, I thought it may have been hormonal changes due to my menstrual cycle, but when the lump did not shrink/go away by the beginning of July, I had it examined. At first, my gynecologist thought the lump was a cyst, but he sent me to get a mammogram anyway because of my family history. Within five days of my first visit, and after a mammogram, ultrasound, and biopsy, I was diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer.
I’ve had so many people tell me that I’m “too young” to have breast cancer, but unfortunately, I’m not. Cancer doesn’t discriminate. For this reason, it is important to me that women are given the resources and education to know how to properly examine themselves and are aware of the immense importance of knowing their own family history and being in tune with their bodies. I have always been very conscientious when it comes to making sure that I routinely perform breast self-exams. On my maternal grandmother’s side alone, there have been six of us who have been diagnosed with breast cancer - the youngest at age 25.
As a public health professional, I was already very passionate about the early detection of cancer and preventative screenings. Unfortunately, I now know the high costs associated with cancer screenings, especially for those individuals who are underinsured or uninsured. That’s why it’s important to me that women know the Louisiana Breast and Cervical Health Program (LBCHP) is a program that provides breast and cervical cancer screenings (mammograms and Pap tests) at no cost to uninsured and underinsured, lower income women in Louisiana. Services include:
- Clinical breast exam
- Pelvic Exam
- Pap Test
- Other diagnostic tests
I firmly believe that being proactive in checking my breasts, early detection, early screenings, and knowing my family history (along with an amazing team of doctors) played a big role in saving my life. Had I have waited even six more months, my story could have been a very different one. I am one in eight, but I am also a survivor.
- Krystle Hensley, Breast Cancer Survivor, Public Health Graduate