Lindsey Gritton said she was misdiagnosed with a clogged milk duct when she was 34 weeks pregnant.
After requesting an ultrasound, Gritton said she was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer.
She said she wants other young women to know the importance of advocating for themselves.
Lindsey Gritton said she was 34 weeks pregnant with her second daughter when she began to experience a burning sensation in her right armpit and the outside of her right breast in April. The burning would come and go, she said, but it persisted for about a week. Shortly after, the 29-year-old said she discovered a lump on the outer right side of her breast, the size of a small marble.
Gritton said the lump felt similar to a clogged milk duct she had in her first pregnancy, but this one was a little different because she couldn't unclog it herself, and the pain was persistent. She scheduled an appointment with her ob-gyn, who told her it was most likely a clogged milk duct causing mastitis, an inflammation of the breast tissue. The doctor prescribed her antibiotics, but Gritton said she still felt skeptical.
Gritton recalled her doctor saying: "I've seen this a thousand times. I have so many people with this problem when they're pregnant."
"And I just knew what a clogged duct felt like," Gritton said. "And so in the back of my head, I knew that it wasn't that."
Gritton said she insisted on getting an ultrasound, even after her doctor told her she was too young for it to be cancer. "She didn't even want to do an ultrasound. I had to just keep asking for it. I was like, 'I really need to get an ultrasound because I'm really worried about it,'" she said.
Gritton said that when she went in for her appointment a few days later, she knew from looking at the ultrasound technician's face that something was wrong.
"She kept going over it with her little wand thing, and she kept looking at the screen. They're not allowed to say anything to you, but I could just tell by that look on her face that it just wasn't good," she said.
She said her ultrasound results indicated a high likelihood of cancer, and a biopsy a week later confirmed that she had invasive ductal carcinoma. She said doctors told her the cancer had likely already spread because of the size of the tumor. They couldn't know for sure, though, until they took a PET scan, which wasn't possible while Gritton was pregnant because of the radioactive tracers used in the scan, which can expose unborn children to radiation.
Gritton's pregnancy was induced a week later, she said, three weeks before her original due date. After she gave birth, she said the PET scan confirmed that she had stage 4 cancer that had spread to her liver. She started chemotherapy two weeks later.
Gritton is hopeful, despite her diagnosis
Gritton said she's been undergoing chemotherapy for four months and goes in for treatments every three weeks. She said she feels lucky to live close to her husband's family in Gainesville, Georgia, who take care of the kids from time to time.
Gritton said she's hopeful that chemotherapy can eliminate most of her cancer. Her most recent scans showed that 80% of it is gone, she said.
Advocating for herself saved her life
Gritton said she wants to let women know the importance of advocating for themselves when they're worried about their health.
"If I wouldn't have advocated for myself, I don't even think I'd be here today. Because from what they told me with my blood work and everything, my liver was already failing," she said.
Young women should also get screened for breast cancer regularly, especially when they're pregnant, she said.