January Educator of the Month
Dental hygienist Christina Rauber found her lump in the shower on Mothers Day. “It wasn’t until I saw the Know Your Lemons campaign after my diagnosis that I realized I had more signs and symptoms than just a lump. I wish I had known about them earlier. This is why I became a Know Your Lemons Global Educator—more women need to know these 12 symptoms and how to find them as early as possible.”
Christina was certified as a KYL educator in November 2020, and in just a few short months has taught 500 students online from her home in New York—as she undergoes her chemotherapy treatments. Christina’s drive to improve early detection is unwavering and her footprint in the breast health community is growing daily. Here is her story:
“As a dental hygienist my job is to take care of patients and their oral care. Through my job I’ve been able to create relationships with my patients and before I knew it my patients entrusted me with more aspects of their life than just their teeth.
I’ve learned a lot about my patients with struggles in life, such as cancer diagnosis. We update every patient’s medical history every hour of the day and unfortunately cancer diagnosis pops up for some. There is one patient who has always stuck out to me. She was a young woman in her 30s (I was in my late 20s) who updated her medical history and she had marked that she was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was shocked, we both were. So we sat there talking about her diagnosis and what I could do to help. She shared her story about how she just randomly found her lump in the shower.
That story just stuck with me. From that point onwards I paid more attention to checking my breasts. Did I know what I was checking for? No. But at least I made a conscious effort to pay attention to them.
Fast forward a few years later. It’s Mother’s Day and I’m taking a shower and for whatever reason I washed a certain way that made me do a double check on my left breast. This felt different. Did I feel a “snag” on my way up from washing? Was that a lump? No. It’s probably just a muscle or I’m getting my period soon. Then I realized, wait, I’m not getting my period soon. Hmmm. I called my husband upstairs to make sure I wasn’t imagining anything. His face alone made me realize that I needed to get this checked out.
Mind you, we are in the middle of a pandemic. I haven’t returned to work yet (deemed nonessential at first) and doctors offices are a little bit more hesitant to take in patients unless it’s an emergency. Welp. My body. My emergency. I luckily got in and it was verified as a lump.
Fastforward. I got my diagnosis of HER2+ breast cancer. Left breast only. Stage 2 Grade 3. If the lump was just a micron or so larger I would have been put into Stage 3. Just like that, my world was turned upside down. Right then and there I was inadvertently educating others from day one. “This is what a lump feels like.” I wanted to tell and show others and as I started treatment, I was constantly researching and reading about breast cancer. That’s when I found Know Your Lemons! And then it finally all clicked.
I am able to educate even more people and be able to provide more ways of teaching others.
As I looked more into KYL I realized I had so many more signs and symptoms and how I wished I had known about KYL earlier.
When I received my KYL Global Educator lanyard that was the cherry on top. That pink wooden ball…the one that identifies as what a lump feels like found by accident…that was me. That was my lump. I knew for a fact that KYL was mine to be a part of and spread the word of breast health and the importance of self exams.
And now here I am post 6 rounds of intense chemo, double mastectomy, and breast expanders. I still have 12 more rounds of targeted chemo (out of 14 rounds in total) and my exchange surgery. But I have been feeling good and ready to keep at this thing called life.
KYL has given me that extra “oomph” to keep my high energy and help keep educating.
Now I can bring all of my supplies that were given to me to work and help my patients out even more. Not just with oral care, overall health, but breast care too. Get ready dental world, I’m bringing dental and breast health together!”