|Date of diagnosis:|
Feb. 24 2009
|Age at time of diagnosis: |
Stage of diagnosis:
|Stage 3C w/mets to nodes |
|Last 'NORMAL' Mammogram: |
Six months prior to diagnosis
How was cancer diagnosed?
|by Katherine/confirmed by ultrasound |
On my 53rd Valentine's Birthday, I found my tumor with my own hand while sipping coffee in our hottub. At first, I tried to convince myself that I must have "hurt" myself. After all, I had a normal mammogram, complete with the Happy gram letter just 6 months before. When I realized the hard lump wasn't going away, I knew it was cancer. The ultrasound confirmed a 5CM cancer in addition to the shocking news that my nodes were also cancerous.
When the first surgeon dismissed my questions and spent only 10 minutes with me, intuition whispered, "find another surgeon." In my small town, I could not get a single doctor to recommend a second opinion. By the grace of God, a circle of women who had received breast cancer treatment at Stanford Cancer Center, three hours away from my hometown. The surgeon herself, when I arrived, cancelled all of her appointments; she administered an ultrasound, a mammogram and a core biopsy that day.
In her words, "tissue is the issue." I then entered a clinical trial for Her2+, ER+ stage 3c invasive breast cancer. I received chemotherapy before the surgery. It began on April and finished in September.
I was to begin Herceptin on September 9th and with a verbal okay from the cardiology department, I was hooked up for the first infusion. Within 30 minutes, my body went into anaphylactic shock. I had an injected to slow the heart rate and the IV was on hold until my heart recovered from the weakening it had incurred from the grueling chemotherapy treatment.
On September 30, 2009, I had single mastectomy with all lymph nodes removed. I had 33 radiation treatments and completed it just before Christmas. By February of 2010, my cardiologist gave the go ahead for Herceptin, with precautions for my allergic reaction and to minimize cardio-toxicity. A slow drip, preceded by IV drugs to counter the allergy. I was also prescribed tamoxifen, which I continue to take every day as per my oncologist's advice. Tamoxifen has not been without side effects!
Yes, my breasts were and my one healthy breast is dense. If I had known about density, or asked for ultrasound after mammography, my life would not have been altered in such a magnanimous way. Through strategic treatment in the clinical trial, and by the grace of our Great Creator, I am alive and currently cancer free today. I am so grateful to support and educate other women about dense breast tissue so they will not be subjected to the grueling treatments of late -stage diagnosis
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Breast density is one of the strongest predictors of the failure of mammography screening to detect cancer.
Two-thirds of pre-menopausal women and 1/4 of post menopausal women have dense breast tissue.
Adding more sensitive tests to mammography significantly increase detection of invasive cancers that are small and node negative.
Cancer turns up five times more often in women with extremely dense breasts than those with the most fatty tissue.
While a mammogram detects 98% of cancers in women with fatty breasts, it finds only 48% in women with the densest breasts.
A woman at average risk and a woman at high risk have an EQUAL chance of having their cancer masked by mammogram.
Women with dense breasts who had breast cancer have a four times higher risk of recurrence than women with less-dense breasts.
A substantial proportion of Breast Cancer can be attributed to high breast density alone.
There are too many women who are unaware of their breast density, believe their “Happy Gram” when it reports no significant findings and are at risk of receiving a later stage cancer diagnosis.