Back in my early 30's I experienced some problems with my left breast - and of course - the first reaction was "breast cancer". I was immediately seen by a breast surgeon to determine why my breast tissue was sinking in - along with the lumps (like many women - I have very dense breast tissue). Needle biopsies were useless due to the hardness of the lump - so over the next 5 years - I underwent many slice ‘n dice procedures as more growths appeared - drainage tubing - core biopsies, yadda, yadda, yadda. I was a medical oddity - making medical journalist documents to the point where I was willing to go to a Miami medical conference and stand naked up on the stage for someone to say - " Ah ha - we know what it is !!! ").
In the end, because I am a gal who likes to be informed about my health - I hit the needle in the haystack - and came across a few articles on a condition known as diabetic mastopathy. Yes, I the patient figured it out, but the sad thing is, in every article I came across - they said to " leave the lump alone it'll resolve itself after menopause and do not operate as this can lead to more growths! ". When I told my surgeon what I had discovered - he was very baffled by it all - and I became abit of a celebrity in the medical community due to the way my healthy breast tissue had been eaten away to basically the point of nothing. I wore silicone prosthesis for many years - which became abit of a party hit - when I'd take it out of my bra - and slam it on someone's forehead - sort of like the neural parasite from the Star Trek episode of Operation Annihilate.
So, advance many years later - about 4 years ago - what has become of the breast at that time is now a lump - like a piece of wood - hard - uncomfortable - sometimes painful when my cat would walk across my chest at night time to cuddle. The recourse at this point in time - due to now a new group of surgeons wanting to slice ‘n dice me - is because of not knowing if this could become cancer over time - and they had nothing to compare me to - was to go ahead with a subcutaneous mastectomy (removal of the breast tissue inside - leave skin intact on outside). Three days recovery in a hospital (have I ever told you I hate hospitals?) - I was CURED - thump with the bible on my forehead!!!
I'm still getting used to having a "Dolly Parton" again - have abit of scarring problems due to all the surgeries (had to have implant removed and replaced due to wrong size few years ago) - but I'm doing alright. Because many mastectomy survivors have to keep there arms immobile for awhile - I did develop frozen shoulder - not annoying enough to cause movement problem - but needs abit of work. Of course, we diabetics are known for this condition - what isn't with long term diabetes ? So, I've got a physiotherapist coming by my house for the next little while - showing me the correct techniques to massage the breast due to the scarring and tightening of muscles (very strange - when you have no feelings) - as well as sorting out the frozen shoulder. The funny thing about the physiotherpapist who works with many breast cancer survivors - has never heard of this condition of the breast - and she knew very little about diabetes - so I educated her about diabetes while she did her magic work on me. So, one more person out there that now knows that diabetes is a serious disease despite what they see of us on the outside (I told her that diabetics blood sugar when high is like battery acid on an engine - eats away at the good stuff - abit scary to hear - but it's true when you think about it).
So, look out world - I'll soon be slinging my over the shoulder boulders at you - as I take on the world with my Dolly Partons!!! Just remember - diabetic or not - always do your monthly self breast examinations - and get a mammogram done at least every 2 years - or as recommended by your medical team that helps with your mission of good health!
Updated October 3, 2015 - old links have been corrected :)
By: FatCatAnna: Mar, 14, 2013 13:01 PM
Joan - yes - the story is a few years old - am surprised when I saw you in person the first time - I didn't have Frank - your DH - do a feel of "which one is fake?" <LOL>.Yes, it was scary that everytime a lump was found - it was always that fear of "is it cancer". I can sort of relate in some ways to how women with cancer of the breast feel.The one thing that has scared me abit - since my 2 year check up with the plastic surgeon - Dr. Zelt - when I was telling him about the ongoing fight against Johnson & Johnson with their s/w issues with their insulin pumps - and how the upper management are handling me - he said he totally understands. The scary bit? The implant I presently have in me (silcone gel) - is made by a company called Mentor - and it is now owned by J&J. He no longer uses their immplants in his patients due to the way they treat him/patients. I am hoping I never have any issues with this implant (just finding out the lifetime warranty I thought it had before - is only 10 years) - it can last for many years supposably - but trying not to worry about that - have enough on my mind to contend with!!!
By: : Mar, 14, 2013 11:46 AM
Wow Anna, you have had a tough time of it with this issue. It is something that I have never ever heard of before. I am wondering if it mostly affects Type 1's, as a lot of Type 2's are post menopausal already, and you say it can resolve after menopause. I know the high BG's attack all parts of the body, organs, nerves, etc., but never heard of it attacking tissue such as breast tissues. Very interesting, but pretty scary! The thought of cancer and lumps makes all women feel vulnerable and scared. Glad you are doing well now though. Hmmm...I have just re-read the post and see the date is 2009. Still, a very interesting read. Cheers Joan
By: FatCatAnna: Aug, 21, 2009 10:40 AM
Many thanks for the words Doris. If you could see the comments at other forums that this blog has been posted - you'd be overwhelmed by the responses as I was. My story has started quite a discussion - amongst many that are not aware of diabetic mastopathy.
I even had one person asking me if I believed there was a connection between diabetes and cancer. I don't believe there is - for me - it was just luck of the draw - could have been a combination of things - like wacking my chest in my early 20's when I did a Ms. Evel Knievel stunt - who knows .
I hope that we see your article you wrote about diabetic mastopathy here on the front page of Diabetes1.org one day - shame that it has to sit on the back burner simmering away!
By: dorisjdickson: Aug, 21, 2009 09:36 AM
Some day maybe they will publish the article I wrote several months ago on diabetic mastopathy. As you know, from you sharing your experience, I feel it is vital that patients are aware of the difference between the two diseases so they do not permit unnecessary procedures that may actually make the situation worse. And as you also know, doctors frequently don't know the difference and perform procedures that, again, make mastopathy worse and leave the patient scratching their heads about what is going on with their body.
It has become increasingly obvious to me, there are several scar tissue based diseases that a result of non-normalized blood sugar. Yet, the connections are not being made. Doctors are not educated. Patients are not aware. And lots of "stuff" is happening to diabetic bodies with a recurring response of "I don't know" or "you're a diabetic." I personally believe any doctor who says "because you're a diabetic" should be shot.
The answer is NOT because you're a diabetic; it's because you maintain non-normalized blood sugar. And that goes into my speech that average A1Cs of 6 are not good enough. So, diabetics do more research and stop accepting the standard answers. It is clearly up to us to share with each other and kick butt if we don't get results.
Thanks again, Anna, for sharing your story. It really needs to get out there.
frozen shoulder (1)
diabetic mastopathy (1)
Mama - Why Was I Chosen?
overweight + type 2 = breast cancer
Tight glucose control pays off over time: study reveals