Kristen Dahlgren of NBC has contributed a guest post to TODAY’s website on a very serious topic. She discusses the unusual breast cancer symptom that she nearly missed. Her story begins in November 2016 when she was coming back from maternity leave. She was assigned to go to Rochester, Minnesota to interview a doctor at the Mayo Clinic. She learns from a research study in the UK that around 1 in 6 women diagnosed with breast cancer visit the doctor with symptoms other than just a lump.
Now, lumps are probably the most common symptom. But, the study includes other symptoms such as nipple changes, dents, dimples, pain or redness. Kristen interviews a woman for this story who earns a diagnosis only when she gives a second opinion. The woman noticed a very subtle change in the shape of her breast. Turns out, she has stage three breast cancer.
Kristen Dahlgren remembers the night she finds a dent in her breast
Dr. Deborah Rhodes, an internist with Mayo Breast Diagnostic Clinic, talks to Kristen about this. “It’s profoundly important to be aware of your breasts,” she says. It turns out that this one story would end up saving Kristen’s life. Fast forward to September 2019. Kristen is in her 40s and she’s active, healthy, and happy. She notes in her piece that she does not have a family history of cancer. She also states that she had a mammogram earlier in April that came back negative.
However, on her 47th birthday, this would change. She’s getting ready to meet some friends when she notices a slight dent in her right breast. Kristen says she’s not great with self-exams, but she makes sure to pay this close attention. Regardless of this scare, she plans to go into work the following day anyway. Between live shots during work, she would run to the local hospital for a mammogram and ultrasound.
In questionable moments, always seek out medical help
Within just a few days, Kristen is diagnosed with stage two breast cancer. This completely changes the course of her life. Her life soon became doctors appointments, chemotherapy, and a lot of stress and tears. Kristen hopes that her story will inspire other young women to engage in more self-exams and learn every possible symptom of breast cancer before it’s too late.
She also learns that mammograms are actually only 87% effective and are less sensitive in women with dense breast tissue. If something feels wrong, ladies, get it checked out. It’s better to be safe than sorry.