I had a breast exam during my visit to the OB/GYN in September 2003, and the results were fine. One week later, my husband noticed a lump in my breast. I dismissed it because I have dense breasts, and I believed that if it was anything important, the doctor would have found it during the exam.
In December 2003, I had my yearly mammogram. My husband asked if I had mentioned the lump, but I had forgotten to. That week I received a letter stating that the mammogram was clear.
By March 2004, the lump was more noticeable to me, so I made an appointment with a physician. I was diagnosed with Stage IIB breast cancer; seven out of 11 nodes tested positive (grade III). My cancer was more like an “oil spill” and a mammogram would not have caught it. I had a lumpectomy without clear margins, followed by four rounds of dose dense chemo, a mastectomy, four more rounds of dose dense chemo and 36 radiation therapy treatments.
I am currently on Femara and am doing well. In fact, despite a few set backs, I am doing “darn good.” I still go to the gym five times a week. During treatment I continued to work out (the only thing in life I felt I could control) and still went to work, taking very few days off.
I never discussed breast cancer with anyone and no one discussed it with me. I wasn’t educated about the disease. If one person, just one, had talked to me about cancer, I would have run to the doctor. The plain and simple fact is that I knew nothing about cancer. I know I can’t go back, but I do wonder how different my prognosis would be had I gone to the doctor as soon as I discovered the lump.
My oncologist tells me that my prognosis is “as good as for any person with early detection.” So I live by those words, and when I open my eyes each morning I say “thank you, God,” for another day. I am still here with my husband and my five-year-old daughter (I am 44 years old)!