Karen DeBernardis | CaringBridge

Karen DeBernardis Fight like a Tiger

First post: 11/29/2013 Latest post: 11/6/2015

For the past three years I've had clear mammogram results, even as recent as this past May. In mid September my son charged at me for a hug like he usually does and it hurt when he hit my chest.  I thought that was odd but figured maybe it was from the intense Insanity DVD workouts and all the running I've been doing.  About a week later I discovered a lump in my left breast shortly before Mike and I went to Vegas to celebrate my 40th birthday.  I saw my dr a few weeks ago who thought it was maybe a fibroid but wanted me to get an ultrasound and biopsy if needed.  I was able to get an appointment on November 8th.  The ultrasound showed a few shadowy spots so they biopsied 3 different areas, the lump, a spot nearest the lump and a lymph node in my armpit. They also did another mammogram.  



On November 14th while I was picking the kids up from school my doctor left me a message. I hadn't  worried about the results because I never really thought I would have cancer, not yet anyway.  The message was that he got a copy of the results and wanted to know if I had any questions. Just that he asked if I had questions made me think in the back of my head that he didn't have good news but still did not think I had breast cancer. 


As I called my doctor back I was about to get news that will change my life.  He told me the report said it was indicative of breast cancer.  It showed signs of ductal carcinoma.  I had no idea what that meant but was shocked beyond belief to hear I have breast cancer.   There is no family history on my Mom's side and don't believe there is any on my Dad's side but we aren't sure.   My next call was to Mike to let him know.  I felt awful because I was going to ruin his birthday. So far that moment has been the only moment that I've really cried.  That cry didn't last  long since Zack was shouting through the bathroom door "why are you crying Mommy?".


Unfortunately I am all too aware of this horrible disease.  A really good friend of mine from a Mom's of Multiples chat board was diagnosed with cancer two years ago.  Angela chronicled her journey and battle in the most inspirational way so I have a good understanding of what is ahead.  She is one of the first friends I told about my diagnosis and I want(ed) her to know that she made a difference by helping me be aware of my breasts and question if something does not seem right. If it weren't for her I might have brushed off the pain and the lump.  I also want to remember and honor a good friend from college, Melissa, who passed away earlier this year after battling breast cancer for several years.  I regret that she and I lost touch a few years after graduating because we were so close.  Needless, to say her death impacted me and also taught me to be aware of my body.  I am greatful to both of these women.


Anyway, to continue my saga (sorry this is getting long but those who know me know I like to include details with everything)....I met with the first breast surgeon on November 18th.  Based on the pathology reports and my films she believed I was Stage 1 out of 4 and the tumor is small, about the size of a peanut.  The lymphnode that they biopsied was negative which is good. The next day I saw a doctor at St Barnabas who I really liked.  She sent me right away for an MRI and bloodwork for the BRCA test which is the test to see if I have the gene.  After that appointment we were thinking surgery  first so I was struggling with lumpectomy or mastectomy.

On November 25th I spoke with the dr from St Barnabas.  The MRI results show that the tumor is actual one large mass approx 5cm and not a 1.5cm and smaller area.  They believe the two positive biopsied areas are part of the same tumor.  There is as an enlarged lymphnode near the chest wall.  It could be enlarged because the cancer spread to it or from being poked and proded with needles for the biopsy.  I am going for a Petscan so they can look at that further.  The good news is my right breast looks "beautiful" per the doctor and my heart and lungs look great.

That same day we met with a doctor at Memorial Sloan Kettering. The Dr there was able to get that last report from pathology which would change everything even more.  My cancer is Triple Negative.  This means it is very aggressive and needs to be treated with chemo regardless.  I was shocked to hear this plus now knowing it's a large mass.  

So it looks like chemo will be starting in a few weeks.  Based on this new information and what I've read I believe I have Stage 3 cancer.


I'm doing surprisingly well.  One thing I know about myself is that things never seem real to me until the actual moment.  I feel fine physically so that might be messing with me. I've remained positive so far but I'm sure it will hit me at some point, most likely when my hair starts to fall out.  I am so thankful that I have Mike by my side through this.

Life still goes on with 4 year old active twins.  This Mom does not have time for cancer. I know I am strong enough to get through this. Plus I have several angels watching over me, all of my grandparents, my godparents Aunt Ginger and Uncle Ronnie, and my Uncle Bill.

 I promise myself and you all that I will "Fight like a Tiger".  (I'll explain this tomorrow.) 


Love to all.

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