October 6, 2016 • by Glen Ivy Contributor
On October 5th, 2016 we had the honor of working with 9 beautiful Breast Cancer survivors. They each wrote about their journey in their own words.
In August of 2015 I turned 40, I went to my Doctor’s for my annual physical and he referred me out to have a mammogram (because I was 40 now), so in December of 2015 I had my very first mammogram (oh and by the way, it’s not that bad, not bad at all, I mention this because prior to going in for my first mammogram, I had heard stories about how painful it is and they smash your boobies until they are flat as a pancakes, that can scare a woman a little bit or a lot).
Shortly after that, I received notification that they wanted to do an ultrasound (I freaked out). I was told that it is very common to follow up with an ultrasound after you’ve had your first mammogram. So I had a private one done (because I couldn’t stand the nerves)and I was told that there was nothing to worry about, normal and small micro calcification tissue, nothing alarming and they would not biopsy, no lumps, no tumors. I then had another ultrasound done (this one referred by mammogram and I did not mention to them that I had already had a private ultrasound done). This ultrasound led to a biopsy, again I was told not to worry, normal procedure, again I was told that I had normal, small micro calcification tissue, very common in majority of women, no lumps and no tumors, just being precautious I suppose, honestly I don’t know why or who decided to biopsy my right breast but this is what saved my life and changed everything.
I went in for my biopsy on March 2016, St. Patty’s day, I’ll never forget. The woman who performed my mammogram, and the woman who performed my ultrasound were both there to assist the Doctor with my biopsy. The 2 women, had told me that they had never assisted in a biopsy together with the same patient, and one of the woman was Irish and being that it was St. Patrick’s day, this was my lucky day!! They were so sweet and told me not to worry about anything, this time next week I would be celebrating, cancer free most likely, because odds are with me, 85% of woman come back negative for breast cancer.
I don’t know why I thought, what about the other 15%? I also remember thinking, I can’t be the exception, I am a woman too and who falls into that 15%? I had 3 biopsies done on my right breast. I gave it a few days and then started hounding my Primary Doctor for results.
Turns out, I was part of that 15%, within a 3 month period I had had my first mammogram ever, a couple of ultrasounds, 3 biopsies on my right breast and confirmation that I had stage 0 breast cancer in my right breast (DCIS, Ductal Carcinoma In Situ), the cancer was not spreading, it was trapped in the milk ducts. Oh and I didn’t get a straight answer either, no one wants to be the one to confirm that you have cancer. You could say that I kind of harassed people into confirming, I was like, “I need a yes or no answer because I just didn’t understand any of the terms.” Not only did I call my Primary Doctor’s office and his cell, I called the location that did my biopsy and I called City of Hope, I read the diagnosis and asked Yes or No? I asked what does this term mean and I read the term to them DCIS, I read everything to them that was on that form, after a little hesitation from everyone, it was a yes. I met with my Primary who went over my options, including Double Mastectomy.
I will never forget that conversation. I had no idea what to expect. I thank my Doctor so much for going over ALL my options. I say this because when I first met with the Surgeon/Doctor that was going to “remove” the cancer, this (double mastectomy) was not one of the options given. Had I not known everything I needed to know before meeting with that surgeon I probably would have been so happy to hear that I wasn’t going to die and we are saving my breast by treating the area (possibly lumpectomy), remember I have no lumps and no tumors. I mentioned “double mastectomy”, a bit extreme in my case. It was however, the only option for me. Too many stories of woman who are in the same situation as mine and only treat the area, only to find out years later that the cancer is back, or in the other breast and always much more aggressive than the first time around.
I did not want to take that chance.
Also, I never, ever self examined, I was always very honest with my Doctors about this, I know it’s bad but I am a hypochondriac and I would have been in the doctor’s office every week, if not every day thinking there was something wrong with me and self examination would not have discovered the cancer because I had no lumps or tumors. Everything was happening so quickly. Oh and by the way I tested negative for the BRCA gene. My surgery for my double mastectomy and immediate reconstruction occurred on June 15, 2016, this was the best decision I could have made, and my Surgeons were great. I got to keep most of my skin and all of my muscle, none of my lymph nodes had been affected by cancer, we did not spare my nipples or aeriolas. We (my Doctor’s and I) don’t believe that I will need any chemo or radiation, still waiting to see the Oncologist.
I am currently under reconstruction, I have expanders in that are filled once a week to stretch my skin and get me ready for permanent implants and eventually they’ll make me some new nipples and aeriolas, it’s amazing what they can do. Everything is coming along just fine, I did have a little “bump in the road”, a little “hick up”. A couple of months ago I noticed a little hole, the size of a pen mark on my scar on my right breast, so my Dr. did not fill, we watched it, hoping it would scab up and heal but it didn’t. Instead the hole kept getting bigger, my Dr. removed some fill to relax my skin and hopefully allow it to heal on its own, my Dr. did not fill me for about a month, he saw me once a week and assured me there was no infection, because of course, being the hypochondriac that I am, I was terrified of an infection. I wasn’t healing and the hole was just getting bigger, my Dr. scheduled another surgery on September 14, 2016, only 3 months after my double mastectomy.
He opened me back up, removed more fill and made sure everything looked good (no infection) and closed me back up. Today (Oct.3, 2016) we began filing my right breast again. I am happy to say that I am healing perfectly well. I can’t help but to think how lucky I am, the 2 ladies that assisted with my biopsy were absolutely right, that day was my lucky day, it was the day that my breast which had absolutely no lumps or tumors were still tested for breast cancer and I was extremely lucky that they discovered it at stage 0 and I was able to make a life saving decision.
I am a survivor of Breast Cancer and this is my story.
Check out Kimberly’s Story HERE
Check out Kathy’s Story HERE
Check out Debbie’s Story HERE
Check out Janelle’s Story HERE
Check out Maja’s Story HERE
Check out Crystal’s Story HERE
Check out Mary’s Story HERE
Check out Sylvia’s Story HERE