By Megan Pischke
One day I woke up and I knew something was really wrong. I had a funny feeling for a couple of years actually; and with doctors, Naturopath’s, physical therapists, and all sorts of blood work / allergy testing, the only thing that came up was a thyroid problem. But I felt there was something more- and I just wasn’t able to get to the bottom of this feeling. And on this day, I knew I was going to figure it out. The lump that I’ve had in my breast for over 10 years, and that had been monitored through a pro snowboarding career and two pregnancies, had grown really really large after losing some baby weight. I went straight to my general practitioner. “Yes this is concerning- let’s send you in for an ultrasound. I’ll put you on a waiting list and see if we can rush it,” were the words I heard. The rush was a 7-week wait. Not wanting to panic, as I’m trusting the system here, and their version of “rush,” I wanted to be pro active. Diet + meditation was my number one, and then somebody suggested thermography while I was waiting. I went to go and visit a chiropractor in Vancouver who did this type of imaging. I had him palpate the lump, and asked him what he thought. “hhhmmm,” he said. “ Strange.” It was complicated, as I was breast feeding my son at the time, had massive amounts of scar tissue in the area from a snowboard accident years ago, and a “normal” lump that had been monitored for years. I stood there with my shirt off in this man’s office for all of five minutes. When he reviewed the results, he said it was unlike anything he’d ever seen in 15 years of doing this type of imaging.
This is one of the resulting images from that day:
As I had never seen anything like this (and apparently he hadn’t either), I sat and stared, and he kind of did too. It looked scary, and hot and bothered. I asked, “is it cancer?” He started to explain that generally cancerous lumps are much hotter than body temperature, and the three or four lumps that are seen are cooler than body temperature. And he told me he didn’t think it was cancer, but that I should see a doctor right away. Strangely, even after viewing those crazy pictures, I felt much better leaving the chiropractor’s office that day. Four weeks later during my ultrasound, the journey truly began, as I found out I had a stage III aggressive breast cancer. He knew- and he just didn’t want me to worry. As he asked me several times when I would see a doctor next.
That was four years ago. Thankfully, I am in remission now.
Here is what I’ve learned about it:
Thermography, also known as digital infrared thermal imaging, is a non-invasive test that uses an infrared camera to produce the pictures (thermograms). These pictures record temperature and blood vessel patterns. When precancerous or cancerous tissue is present, abnormalities develop in the blood circulation close to the tumour or affected areas. These abnormalities cause an increase in temperature within the affected tissues, and all of this is picked up by the infrared camera, and then transcribed by a computer and a doctor who specializes in examining these images, and who can suggest a proper course of action. “I choose to recommend thermography for my patient’s breast health. It is a helpful monitoring and preventative care tool. The standard of care currently utilized is not our only option. Thermography is painless and non-invasive, eliminating the risk for potential acceleration or spread of potential breast lesions.” – Dr. Jennifer Vitaro, ND, Denver, Colorado
Breast thermography should not be used in replacement of mammography. But it can be a valuable tool whether you have had cancer or not, to monitor your breast health, and any changes that occur in your breasts and or surrounding areas, and can also be used along side mammograms, or as the ND explained above, is a way to mitigate the radiation while monitoring a cancer. What I really appreciate about this procedure after all of the scans and tubes and x-rays and radiation, is that it’s completely safe and requires no radiation for the imaging.
I’m not sure if that chiropractor told me not to worry because he knew there was a big problem or not (as he was assured I would be seeing someone as soon as the ultrasound was available to me). Either way, I’m grateful for him and the time I had not worrying myself sick or losing sleep. As I was about to do that anyways, with a couple hundred life changing choices and 18 months of cancer therapy.
Today, I do thermography imaging 2 x’s a year, along side my regular mammograms.