A correspondent at NBC News is crediting a report she did on unusual symptoms of breast cancer with saving her life after she recognized one of them in herself several years later.
“I remember thinking that the story would save lives,” Kirsten Dahlgren wrote in an essay posted on TODAY.com. “I had no idea the life it would save would be my own.”
Dahlgren said it was on her 47th birthday in September that she first noticed a dent in her right breast, with “thickening” underneath. At the insistence of her husband, she called her doctor and got an ultrasound and mammogram in between live shots while covering a hurricane along the Outer Banks.
“Within days, I was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer,” Dahlgren wrote. “Since then, my life has been filled with doctor appointments, chemotherapy and, yes, tears. In my darkest moments, I ask, ‘Why?’ though I try not to dwell on that. I have too much to do.”
Dahlgren revealed that a mammogram months before her diagnosis had come back clean and that if she hadn’t done the story on unusual symptoms, she “might have ignored the change in my breast.” She said that after her diagnosis, she called up the Mayo Clinic doctor who she had interviewed for the story several years ago and went to thank her in person.
“If the story saved me, how many other women are out there that need this?” Dahlgren wrote. “This is more common than we appreciate.”
While a lump in the breast is a symptom most commonly reported on, other potential signs of breast cancer include thickening of tissue, change in size, shape or appearance, changes to the skin over the breast such as dimpling, a newly inverted nipple, peeling, scaling, crusting or flaking of the pigmented area surrounding the nipple or breast skin, and redness or pitting of the skin over the breast, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Doctors also say that even if the symptoms appear after a recent mammogram, it is imperative to get them checked out.
Dahlgren said that she hopes sharing her story will inspire others to be vigilant about their health.
“I end 2019 full of gratitude, knowing there is a long road ahead, but hopeful that sharing my story might make a difference for someone else,” she wrote.