Feb 25, 2020 Latest post:
Sep 24, 2020
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In July 2019, I had my first mammogram ever in celebration of my recent 40th birthday. No preexisting signs of cancer, no lumps felt, nothing. With some family history of breast cancer, I was only mildly aware that I should begin having mammograms performed. Much to my surprise, they discovered lumps in both breasts. The lump in my right breast was benign, but they wanted more tests on the lump in my left breast.
From there, I endured the stress of an ultrasound, two (stressful and unsuccessful) MRIs, and ultimately needle biopsies. The results were delivered just days before Christmas. The lump in my left breast was malignant. I was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma. It was breast cancer.
Our family, with the recommendation of a family friend, found a wonderful breast cancer surgeon, Dr. Kort, in Syracuse. Appointments were made quickly and my test results were reviewed. Based upon the imaging available to us at the time (from July), Dr. Kort determined that my treatment would include a lumpectomy and radiation.
I had the lumpectomy on February 5, 2020. Dr. Kort did wonderful work, but the surgery was not a success. It was obvious at the time of surgery that the mass had grown since the mammogram in July. They were able to discover two masses and removed four lymph nodes. Following surgery, Dr. Kort shared that the margins did not appear to be clear and she had concerns about what she discovered in the lymph nodes.
When we finally received back the pathology results, the concerns raised were daunting. Due to the size of the two respective masses, I have been diagnosed with Stage II breast cancer. The masses collected were identified as grade 3, meaning that they were poorly differentiated and contained abnormal looking cells. Two of the four lymph nodes contained metastasized cancer.
Through this process I have also participated in genetic testing to determine the contributing factors to my cancer. While I was fortunate to discover that I do not carry the BRCA (breast cancer) gene, the geneticist determined that I do carry an ATM gene mutation that is believed to have contributed to my breast cancer.
At this time, my treatment team has determined that I will require a mastectomy and chemotherapy. I will be meeting with my oncologist in the next week to determine the course and type of chemo that I will undergo. Once I complete chemotherapy, I may require radiation, but that is yet to be determined. My treatment team is strongly encouraging that I undergo chemo before the mastectomy to kill any cancer cells remaining instead of delaying treatment. Much of my treatment is yet to be fully established as I meet with each of the respective doctors on my treatment team. So far I have had a tremendously positive experience with my surgeon and patient navigator. Everyone has been kind, patient, informed and understanding and despite the circumstances, I look forward to working with them.
I am incredibly grateful for the outpouring of support that I have benefited from since sharing my cancer diagnosis. I appreciate everyone who has reached out through text, calls, gifts, flowers, blankets, FB messages of support, prayers and love. I am trying to keep up with each and every message of support that you send and hope that this site helps to keep every one of you informed along this journey.