What Does Cancer Feel Like?

Cancer affects us in many ways and can be difficult to detect until symptoms appear causing us to see a doctor. Many cancers grow inside of us and may take longer to detect. Other cancers, such as in my case with breast cancer, can be felt as a small lump. Knowing what cancer feels like may be important in detecting cancer at its earlier stages. I only wish I knew this, so that I wouldn’t have waited several weeks before seeing my doctor to begin the process of various tests that lead to my cancer diagnosis.

Cancer was nothing new to me, since I had lost both of my parents to this disease. My father was diagnosed with prostate cancer after having symptoms that affect the prostate. My mother had a shortness of breath which caused her to see her doctor only to be diagnosed with lung cancer. I have heard stories of people being diagnosed with a tumor the size of a grapefruit before they were told they had cancer.

My story began with feeling a small lump the size of a pea next to the nipple on my right breast. It was firm and I could squeeze it or push it and there was no pain associated with the lump. Had there been any type of pain, I may have been more concerned. I monitored the lump regularly for about three weeks thinking it would just go away, but little did I know…I never felt cancer before. It wasn’t until I asked my wife to feel my lump that caused me to become concerned. Her insistence that I see my doctor immediately lead me to believe this little pea-sized lump could be a real cause for concern.

As a typical male, waiting for my lump to disappear on its own for several weeks may have been a huge mistake. My breast cancer diagnosis led to a mastectomy where I learned the cancer had spread outside the tumor.  This resulted in a second procedure to remove more lymph nodes to determine if the cancer had spread further which fortunately for me it had not. The next phase of treatments was chemotherapy followed by radiation.

Cancer comes in all shapes and sizes and often there are no symptoms to alert you to what may be a later stage of cancer.  However, when there are unusual symptoms or changes that are felt from within, the first option should be to see a doctor. The earlier we can detect cancer, the better off we are.

As in my previous blogs, my goal is to create awareness that men can and do get breast cancer. This blog is to offer some knowledge of what to look for in the detection of cancer. If you can feel it, whether it hurts or not, don’t wait…see your doctor!

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