Woman, 34, found breast lump, had to fight for mammogram. It was stage 2 cancer

After seeing a PSA about self-breast examinations, La’Draya Macon, then 34, performed one and discovered something alarming. She had a lump.

La'Draya Macon advocated for herself when she found a lump in her breast and was later diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer. Her advocacy helped her sister undergo early screening to make sure she was also healthy. (TODAY)
La'Draya Macon advocated for herself when she found a lump in her breast and was later diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer. Her advocacy helped her sister undergo early screening to make sure she was also healthy. (TODAY)

“I saw a PSA that said, ‘Check your breasts.’ I went home and I checked, and I found something,” Macon, now 35, said in an Oct. 9 TODAY interview. “I was shocked.” She visited her doctor, but the doctor told her to watch it for a few weeks and then return for a follow-up visit. Macon knew that something was off in her body.

“I had to advocate,” she said. “I’m 34, no health problems. I said, ‘Something’s wrong.’”

After waiting a few weeks, Macon returned and spoke up for herself again, pushing for a mammogram.

“Two months later, they gave me a mammogram,” she said.

Soon after, Macon learned she had stage 2 breast cancer and would need to undergo surgery and 16 rounds of chemotherapy to treat it.

At times, it felt tough. As a mental health provider, Macon knew she would need a lot of support from friends, family and her sorority sisters. Often people joined her at treatment to cheer her on, and Macon’s positive attitude kept her strong when things felt bleak.

“I said to myself, ‘This is not going to break you. There are things you are going to go through, but you got to make it through girl,’” she recalled. “I was my own coach.”

She also attended support groups to make sure she felt strong enough to endure the long treatment.

“(Loved ones) helped me,” she says. “They were there every chemo session.”

Dr. Douglas Marks, a medical oncologist at NYU Langone Health, shared that while breast cancer is common, most women are diagnosed in their 50s and 60s. But even though it’s found less often in younger women, Marks believes women and doctors should remain attentive — especially if there’s a change in one’s breast.

About “20% of women will be diagnosed younger than 50, and 5% of women will be diagnosed under 40,” he said. “That’s about 15,000 women under 40. So, it’s very important if you feel something like La’Draya did, you say something.”

“If you feel like it’s not natural, it doesn’t feel (normal), you should bring it to your doctor’s attention,” he added. While breast cancer screenings aren't recommended for most women until their 40s, "if a patient has a symptom ... it should be worked up," regardless of their age, Marks said.

Macon has been cancer free for a year and her twin sister, La’Dreama Macon, also underwent screening to make sure she didn’t have breast cancer.

“I panicked. I’m a single mother so I’m like, ‘She has breast cancer. What if I have breast cancer? We both can’t go through this battle together,” La’Dreama Macon said on TODAY. “I got hyper vigilant. I went to my doctor and started asking questions."

La'Draya Macon is cancer free and undergoes regular screening to make sure i hasn't returned. (TODAY)
La'Draya Macon is cancer free and undergoes regular screening to make sure i hasn't returned. (TODAY)

Since Macon’s diagnosis, La’Dreama Macon has learned a lot about sister.

“She’s a warrior,” La’Dreama Macon said. “She’s resilient because this person was so positive, so positive during this whole experience.”

This article was originally published on TODAY.com