A mom of five who was misdiagnosed after finding a lump in her breast while she was pregnant with her fifth child, is urging women to be their own advocates.
In June 2018, Michelle McClain (39), a small business owner from California in the US, was surprised to find a lump on her breast during a routine self-examination at home.
The following day, Michelle went to the doctor where she had a mammogram and ultrasound. The results came back saying she had a benign tumour called fibroadenoma.
Told to return in only six months for a follow-up appointment she felt uneasy about the reassuring news because her gut was telling her the lump was more serious.
Earlier this year, Michelle returned to the hospital for another examination but this time she was 19 weeks pregnant.
She got the devastating news that she had stage 2b invasive ductal carcinoma triple positive breast cancer.
“I was at work when I got the call. I immediately broke down, everyone was at lunch at the time so I was in the office by myself,” she said.
“I left work and called my husband on the way home, he met me at home. All I could think about was my family. I have young children and one on the way. What's going to happen to my unborn child? They needed me, I’m too young to die, I was terrified because I had no knowledge or education on breast cancer.”
Michelle was given four rounds of chemotherapy, which she was told would be safe for her baby, to shrink the tumour and stop it from spreading.
Four weeks after her last session, Michelle was induced and gave birth to her daughter Dakota.
Since her diagnosis Michelle has been encouraging women to check their breasts regularly and to take action if they sense something isn’t right with their body.
“I've accepted that I have cancer which makes it easy for me to breeze through everything,” said Michelle.
“When something doesn’t feel right, speak up. It's important to be your on advocate. You know your body best.”