Treatment: Lumpectomy, chemotherapy and radiation<
In September 2002, while doing a breast self-exam, I found what thousands of women find each year: a lump in my breast. At the time, it didn’t mean a lot to me. I was 26. What were the odds?
I decided to go on in to the doctor, just to be sure, and went to my usual Ob-Gyn. After my consultation, he assured me it was “nothing” and sent me on my way. Mammograms weren’t done at my age, 26, because the breast tissue in young women is dense. I felt healthy, with no family history of the disease, no signs indicating this was anything out of the ordinary, so I agreed with him.
The doctor said it was some type of cyst or fibroid tissue that would clear with my next menstrual cycle. In March of 2003, I noticed the lump hadn’t gone away and, in fact, had begun to create an indentation under my left nipple. I didn’t know it at the time, but that’s not a good sign. In fact, after five minutes of research online, I found out quickly that it was a big, red flag. I decided to call the doctor and go back in. I ended up seeing another Ob-Gyn in the same practice, and she sent me for a sonogram/mammogram.
No more than 30 minutes after I left the doctor’s office, I got a phone call saying they had found a “large mass” that looked very suspicious. That was the first time I broke down and considered I might have breast cancer, and this could possibly be more than we thought. I had surgery a week later on Tuesday, March 25th, 2003. My life was changed forever.
The surgeon removed a malignant 1.6 cm tumor but, thankfully, the margins surrounding the tumor were clear. I was somewhat prepared when I actually heard him say I had breast cancer. I also found out that day I would most likely have chemotherapy, something I hadn’t considered before that time.
Just three short days later, on March 28th, I had another surgery. This time it was to remove the lymph nodes and to implant a port. The doctor removed 18 lymph nodes, 10 of which were positive for cancer. This wasn’t the best news. I ended up being off work for four weeks. I began chemo, followed by radiation. I am now five years out and can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.
I’ve continued to have mammograms every six months, as well as multiple other scans and medications. Through it all, I have had a great support system of family and friends, and remained positive. I didn’t let cancer win. I can’t recommend enough how important second opinions are. Most lumps (80%) are benign but, regardless of your risk factors, cancer is very random.
Since breast cancer came into my life, I’ve become active in fighting the disease. I’ve done numerous Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure® events, both as a participant and volunteer. I have also participated in one Breast Cancer 3-Day® event (it was so AWESOME)!
Giving to the cause and helping to fight this disease is something I will continue to do. I cannot replace the feeling I get when I see all the pink shirts representing all the survivors. They are all heroes. We share a special bond. We are all sisters.