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3/6/2015 Latest post:
I created this site to keep you all updated, to help other young women that maybe facing a similar struggle and to solicit your prayers and support for me, my family and close friends throughout this journey.It was a sunny Saturday at a family outing and I felt a weird sensation in my chest. Given that I just finished breastfeeding my youngest son 6 months ago I didn't think much of it. Mothers who have ever breastfed will understand that. If you paid attention every time you felt a sensation it's all you would think about. That evening I noticed a strange symptom. Of course I googled it and a bunch of information came up. Some was informative, some scary and some completely unhelpful. It didn't seem the symptom was specific to any issue and could be caused by nothing identifiable and would go away, something that was easily treatable or cancer. I considered going into the doctor right away but decided that it should probably wait until Monday. I didn't sleep well that night and in the morning decided to head to urgent care to get it checked out. The doctor did a breast exam and did not find anything irregular. By process of elimination she diagnosed me with an infection, prescribed an antibiotic and asked me to follow up with my OB if symptoms persisted after finishing the antibiotics. It didn't seem right, I decided not to fill the prescription and to make an appointment with my OB on Monday. I was able to get into my OB right away. She did a breast exam and indicated she did not feel anything concerning. She wanted to run blood tests, check hormone levels, test for infection as well as run a culture. I asked her what would happen if all of those tests came back OK but I continued to have this strange symptom. She said that the symptom was not uncommon and they were not always able to diagnose but usually it would resolve on its own. That was scary to me to not have an answer and to continue with a symptom. The doctor said for peace of mind she would order a mammogram but given my young age she said the chance of an irregularity would be very small. I went in for the mammogram, oh how fun. I had no idea you could squish so little tissue so flat. After the mammogram they took me to a dark private room to wait for the radiologist to review the report. The report came back as me having "dense" tissue. To me dense was just code for not a lot of tissue. They wanted to do an ultrasound and asked if I would wait. An hour and a half later I was taken in for the ultrasound. The doctor carefully examined me over the ultrasound and we reviewed my family history. My maternal grandmother and maternal great grandmother both had breast cancer but my mom had not been diagnosed with anything. My grandmother was diagnosed in her 50s and almost died just days after I was born. The cancer was in her breast, lungs and lymph nodes. They removed all they could surgically and radiated which caused severe damage to her lungs and a severe bout of pneumonia that doctors believed would lead to her death. Against all odds, she healed from the pneumonia and was cancer free for the next 30 years.Given my family history and the denseness of the tissue the doctor indicated she wanted to do a biopsy and suggested I consult with my doctor for genetic testing to search for genes that could predispose me to breast cancer (like BRCA). She asked me to schedule the biopsy with her given she was familiar with my case but indicated it might take a few weeks to get an appointment. I am not typically patient and would have preferred to get in sooner but I decided to come back in 2 weeks to see this same doctor. Two weeks later I went in for the biopsy with little concern or anxiety for the results. That was not typical of me. Usually I overanalyze and overthink the possibilities until receiving results. A few days later I got a call indicating that the biopsy was positive for cancer and that I needed to get in with a surgeon as soon as possible. It was a shock, but deep in my heart I knew thatit would be ok, whatever happened. This is probably the first time in my life that I have felt this way with something I could not control. “But as for me, I will trust in You, O Lord, I say, “You are my God. My times are in Your hand” Psalm 31:14-15My doctor referred me to 3 surgeons. I called them immediately and could not get in with any of them before April. So I started researching on the internet and called what seemed to be the top 3 treatment centers in Seattle for breast cancer. All intake receptionists indicated the same thing. No appointments for a few weeks and surgery would be scheduled out even further. So, I did what I typically do with any problems I face and I attacked it from all sides researching, calling, emailing and not taking no for an answer. Within 24 hours I had 2 appointments that were within days of my diagnosis. So thankful to my network of friends that helped me through this process! The first surgeon I met with indicated I have Ductal Carcinoma which represents about 20% of all breast cancer diagnoses. The cancer is estrogen receptor and progesterone receptor positive with a fairly aggressive growth rate. Meaning, if left untreated it would spread to other tissue and if undiagnosed until my first mammogram at age 40 would most likely have already spread to other tissue in my body. She indicated that Ductal Carcinoma does not usually cause lumps in the breast that can be felt upon examination and that 80% of cases are diagnosed by routine mammograms. The cancer is very treatable when caught early and survival rates are in the ninety percentile. Only 3% of all cancer diagnosis occur in women under age 40 and if detected early are generally cured. The identified area is 20 x 40 mm. The Doctor ordered a breast MRI, genetic testing and other blood tests and recommended a definite single mastectomy and potentially a double mastectomy depending on the results of the tests. After the surgery the pathology reports will help the doctors decide on additional treatment (radiation/chemotherapy). I really liked the doctor and her approach to my treatment but I have scheduled appointments with other doctors for second opinions in order to make an informed choice on the best treatment plan. While this news is difficult, everything that has happened has been perfect. I am 32 years old with 3 beautiful children that I was able to breastfeed. Anyone that knew me as a younger girl/woman probably would not have expected me to be one of the first of my friends to be married with kids. But God had this plan for me.The symptoms that I was having were not indicative of cancer. There are many causes to explain the symptoms. I received a diagnosis of an infection but it just didn't feel right. The second doctor I saw realized the anxiety that I might have if she was unable to indicate a cause for the symptom. The ultrasound doctor took an interest in my case and pursued testing even though odds were it would be negative. I had a sense of peace throughout the whole process which is something I have never felt before. God gave me these doctors, helped to inspire them and to give me a sense of peace. My job requires many hours of work a week and at least monthly international travel. The rest of my time is spent with my family. I have not had much time to make new friends and barely enough to preserve old friendships. But, recently I have had some people come into my life that I believe God brought to me to help during this time. God provided this for me because he knew that I needed it. "And God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Jesus Christ" Philippians 4:19I am not scared, I am thankful. Thankful for so much. Thankful that this has happened to me. That it has and will bring me closer to my family, my friends and most importantly my Savior. I sin daily, I struggle with many things, I do not always live the way God calls me to. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” Romans 3:23. But God so loves me that He has given me this challenge. He is helping me to come to know him more and to also help my friends and family to learn to know Him and trust Him. No matter what we believe, what we confess or what choices we make, if we go to church or not he loves us all the same. We all can receive his forgiveness no matter what has happened in our lives. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is notfrom yourselves, it is the gift of God” Ephesians 2:8. So I am not scared, I am thankful for everything that has happened to me (the good and the bad) and the journey that I have ahead of me.