As someone who started mammograms in her mid-20s due to dense breast tissue, Meghan Budd grew accustomed to the process. So, when a radiology tech mentioned “there might be something” she was stunned.
“I sat on the table crying as I tried to process,” Meghan recalled. “I was told not to worry and come back in six months, but I knew I couldn’t sit back and just wait.”
Meghan’s instincts urged her to push for a three-month follow up and her doctor agreed, which turned out to be the right call.
“At my three-month follow up, the spot had grown and changed,” Meghan said. “I wasn’t surprised because my gut was telling me something wasn’t right.”
A tissue biopsy was done that day and on Feb. 15, 2018, Meghan was diagnosed with stage one invasive ductal carcinoma. Her days became a series of doctor appointments, blood tests, genetic testing, research and talks about the best way to handle her diagnosis – both physically and mentally.
Meghan and her husband met with Dr. David Meiners, her surgeon at Mercy Hospital St. Louis, who told her, “You’ll be fine, but you have to jump through some hoops first, but YOU WILL be fine.”
At that moment, Meghan said she saw each appointment as a hoop she got through with one less to tackle. She and her doctors, including oncologist Dr. Heide Rodgers, decided on a lumpectomy though an MRI was needed.
“The MRI turned out to be another blessing in disguise,” Meghan recalled. “The report found a second, smaller tumor deeply embedded in some dense tissue, which turned out to be the primary tumor. Dr. Meiners told me without the MRI that tumor probably would not have shown itself for another year.”
Her treatment plan remained the same and on March 2, after her lumpectomy, she was declared cancer free. Though, during surgery, doctors found some stage zero DCIS which she was told could lie dormant forever or overtime become cancer. For Meghan, a self-described “obsessive worrier,” there was only one answer – bilateral mastectomy.
“I knew myself too well. I did not want to have to worry every year about having a mammogram and the tumor showing up,” Meghan added. “It was the easiest decision of my journey to that point.”
Now, nearly four years since her cancer treatment, Meghan makes good on her promise to be a breast cancer advocate encouraging women to know their bodies and be a voice in your care.
“Doctors are wonderful and work tirelessly with researchers to save lives, but they do not know our bodies like we do,” Meghan said. “When you feel something is not right, never be afraid to question things, to request things, you should trust yourself and your gut.”