A little about my diagnosis and treatment timeline:
Preface: I must tell you at how shocked I was to discover I had breast cancer! After
all, I didn't have a family history! I was only 36 years old! I breastfed my 2 children! I'm telling you
this because I want ALL of you to realize that IF YOU HAVE BREASTS, YOU ARE AT RISK FOR BREAST CANCER!!! I
believe that so much emphasis has been placed on the risk factor of having a family history of breast cancer, that many women
don't feel that this disease could EVER happen to them. I am an advocate for early mammography--at least until something
better comes along. I actually consider myself a poster child for mammography!
I had my first mammogram
at the age of 35. It was abnormal! I had microcalcifications (which look like tiny paint splatters on the mammogram)
in my L breast which necessitated a surgical biopsy. While the results were considered benign (I was told that what they found,
if not removed, would most likely become cancerous in 10 years.) it warranted close follow-up in 6 months. My R breast showed
I had a follow-up diagnostic
mammogram only on my L breast (since the R had been normal) 6 months later. The L breast was stable. A little past the
1 year mark of my first mammogram, it was decided by my GP to mammogram BOTH breasts. This was the beginning of one the biggest
shocks of my life.
While my L breast was stable,
my previously normal R breast now showed signs of invasive cancer. This rapidly growing mass appeared to be the
equivalent of 10 years growth! All in 1 year! I am SO thankful that we had the insight to mammogram BOTH breasts
at that time! I took these films to another radiologist for a second opinion. After a long discussion, I asked her,
"What would've happened if I waited until age 40 to have my 1st mammogram?" She shook her head and said, "You wouldn't
Hence, my journey begins...
I am a 4 year survivor of
invasive lobular carcinoma, stage IIB in my R breast. I was just shy of my 37th birthday when I was diagnosed in June 1997.
The recommendation was for a mastectomy of my right breast, as the initial biopsy ended up being a partial mastectomy ans
STILL didn't get it all. I underwent a bilateral mastectomy (my choice, in collaboration with my medical team) with axillary
lymph node dissection in July 1997. Pathology showed that there was also lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS) in my L breast.
Once I was fully healed, I underwent 4 cycles of chemotherapy (Adriamycin and Cytoxan) 3 weeks apart followed by 30 radiation
The timeline for my diagnosis/testing/treatment
was as follows. (Please note that this is only to outline my personal experience. Due to the varying nature
of treatment protocols and healthcare facilities, your experience may differ.)
6/27/97: Consultation with breast surgeon
and fine needle biopsy (FNA) done in office
7/03/97: Excisional biopsy R breast with
axillary node dissection (2 day hospitalization)
7/23/97: Bilateral mastectomy & insertion
of a medi-port (24 hour stay)
August: had a baseline
CT scan of the chest and abdomen, as well as a bone scan
(Adriamycin and Cytoxan) every 3 weeks; bloodwork was done before each chemo and also 2 weeks after each chemo (saw oncologist
before each chemo session)
Feb 1998 began 6 weeks
of radiation therapy, daily Monday through Friday
I welcome your comments.
If you would like to contribute a personal story or anecdote to "Our Experiences". Please email it to me and it will be placed on the site as I update it. If you would like to add a favorite link (including one to your
own website), please email it to me.