Finding a Tumor
- Teen Mom 2 star Leah Messer, 28, explained why she changed her mind to show her breast cancer scare for MTV’s cameras: Her ex mother-in-law is a breast cancer survivor and encouraged her to spread awareness.
- The mother of three rose to fame on 16 and Pregnant, when she had her 11-year-old twins at 17 years old.
- An expert tells SurvivorNet when women should begin getting mammograms, which depends on your age and family history with the disease.
The West Virginia-born reality star discovered a lump in her breast and luckily it wound up being benign, or non-cancerous.Read More
Messer, now 28, rose to fame on MTV’s other show 16 and Pregnant in 2009 when she was pregnant with her twin daughters at 17 and has been on Teen Mom 2 since 2011. She didn’t want to film at first, but ultimately changed her mind with the help of her ex mother-in-law, a breast cancer survivor, who encouraged her to make a difference using her platform.
Messer now has three daughters: the twins with ex-husband Corey Simms, Aliannah Simms and Aleeah “Gracie” Simms, are 11, and Addalyn Faith “Addie” Calvert with ex-husband Jeremy Calvert is 8.
View this post on Instagram
“I ended up talking to Addie’s grandma, who is a breast cancer survivor,” Messer said, explaining that Tammy Calvert encouraged her to have it filmed and share the experience.
After she thought about it for a little while, she felt, “it is something important.” After all, aside from the huge fan base of the show, Messer herself has 2.4 followers on Instagram, and spreading awareness will encourage other women, young and old, to be diligent about breast checks.
Messer discovered the tumor while driving in the car with her daughters. An ultrasound showed that it was not cancerous, but the young mom still worried about getting future tumors that might be, and also panicked about having it removed, considering her struggles with pain pills.
“Being an addict and owning my addiction, any kind of surgery is terrifying for me,” Leah explained for the cameras. “I’m like, ‘Will I need medication?’ I just want to make sure that I’m not relapsing or having anything like that appear back in my life.” Luckily, most lumpectomies, which are surgeries to remove a breast lump, are easier surgeries, and many cancer patients are okay with just taking aspirin. Some don’t need pain pills at all.
View this post on Instagram
Messer talked to her oldest daughters about the importance of self-checks. Even though they are 11, speaking to them early about it to educate them is also an important reminder for moms who may want to do the same at a time that’s appropriate for them to have that sort of talk.
Getting Checked For Breast Cancer
It is important to know that most lumps are in fact benign like Messer’s, so just because you find a tumor, try not to panic. Although it is always a scary situation to discover a tumor in your breast, experts say that roughly 80% of them are non-cancerous. Some women are scared to check them out right away when they do discover them, due to fear of having cancer, but getting in early is crucial just in case it is cancer; it could save your life.
When should you first start getting mammograms?
There is a wide consensus that women should have annual mammograms between the ages of 45 and 54. But there is some disagreement among doctors as to whether mammograms are beneficial for women between the ages of 40 and 45. This is an option you should, of course, discuss with your own doctor, as many women are getting diagnosed earlier with breast cancer these days.
“If you haven’t gone through menopause yet, I think it’s very important that you have a mammogram every year,” Dr. Connie Lehman, chief of the Breast Imaging Clinic at Massachusetts General Hospital and professor of Radiology at Harvard Medical School, tells SurvivorNet. “We know that cancers grow more rapidly in our younger patients, and having that annual mammogram can be lifesaving.”
Dr. Lehman also explains if you’re older than 55, “you can choose to continue your annual mammograms or opt to have one every two years.”
Again, this is your choice and should be carefully considered with your doctor. And if you fit into the high-risk category, meaning you have a first-degree relative who has had breast cancer, have the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation, or had radiation to the chest area when you were young, Dr. Lehman says you should start yearly mammogram screening as early as age 30.
“We all agree regular screening mammography saves lives,” she stresses. “Every doctor that I know, every organization that I know really encourages women to have a mammogram.”
Introduction to Screening and Prevention