Five years ago today, I learned that I had breast cancer.
I didn't find out in the usual way, an alarmingly ambiguous phone call and then a sit-down with my doctor. The radiologist knew I saw patients in the office for genetic counseling, so while I was getting dressed after my annual mammogram, she beckoned me to her nearby office.
"Take a look at the two screens, Ricki. The left one is last year's image."
It didn't take training in radiology to see that something had happened since last year's mammogram. On the right screen, a small mass blocked a narrow passageway, a milk duct.
When the radiologist enlarged the image, the clump of cells was not only blocking the duct, but pushing against one wall. I realized instantly that if I had skipped my mammogram that year, the next year's scan would have shown invasive cancer.
To continue reading, go to DNA Science, where this post first appeared.