Sara Diemer was diagnosed with stage 4 inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) when she was 36. She was pregnant with her second daughter at the time. “During my pregnancy, my breasts began to change. But my left breast changed more than my right breast – it was bigger, a different shape, red and inflamed,” Sara recalled.
“My OBGYN and multiple specialists all thought the same, that I had an odd case of mastitis. Multiple antibiotics later, nothing changed. It wasn’t until my condition sent me to the hospital that we finally got some answers about what was going on,” said Sara. “A breast surgeon walked into my hospital room, spent 4 seconds looking at my left breast, and told me she was pretty sure I had inflammatory breast cancer.”
IBC is a difficult to diagnose and treat form of the disease. Patients are often diagnosed at later stages, in part because IBC presents differently – rarely is there a lump.
“Because my breast cancer had spread by the time I was diagnosed, I had to start chemotherapy right away,” Sara explained. “The doctors acted aggressively to control the spread of my cancer as quickly as possible.” After a few rounds of chemotherapy, Sara miscarried her daughter.
Sara is still in treatment, and likely will be for the rest of her life. “I didn’t even know inflammatory breast cancer existed,” she said. “I want to get the word out about IBC so we can catch it early, get people into treatment and lengthen, or even save, their lives.”
Sara is grateful for the support she’s received and, in turn, has been able to give to others. “While I am learning to live with cancer, I can share my experiences with others. I find joy in helping others carry the burden,” she said. “It’s hard to even adequately express my thankfulness to the donors who give to Komen. Lives will be saved.”