Angela's Story, diagnosed at 34
This journey started for me late December 2006 when I was doing my monthly breast exam and found a very decent sized lump on my right breast at the one o'clock area. As I kept feeling the lump over and over I thought that it's probably another cystic lump, and not to worry. Then I thought, what if it wasn't? I called my husband downstairs and asked him to take a look. As he felt the lump I could see the uncertainty becoming him. He said, "Well I think it would be worth getting checked out. It feels like a possible muscle, but you should make an appointment".
With that said I was on the phone to my doctor. I got in right away and he sent me for a mammogram. At the age of 34, with no breast cancer history on either side, I felt safe to think I had nothing to be worried about. On December 27th I went in for the mammogram, and then had to have an MRI following day. The results were suspicious so I then had a biopsy on January 2, 2007. The next day I got the call.
"Hi Angela, it's your doctor. Can you come in to see me today?" I responded, "Well I am forty miles away, what's up?" He said, "I don't like doing this over the phone…but your biopsy tested positive for breast cancer." My first words were, "Are they sure?" "Yes, very sure."
I hung up the phone and went outside my office and sat and thought what this meant. Did I catch this early? Will I see my son graduate? Where did this come from? What did I do wrong? Why me? I had so many questions yet no answers. I called my husband and he was very distraught but very positive. I left work and went straight to the women's breast center and met with my good friend and nurse, Kim. She was very attentive and told many positive stories. I cried for hours and think it was days before I could even speak to someone and remember what anyone had said to me. I now had to undergo surgery to remove both breasts. My right one was totally infected so that definitely had to go and the left had a suspicious area that could be followed up in six months. So that was coming off too.
Surgery was February 1, 2007. They removed both breasts and did a sentinel node biopsy. I woke up six hours later to find out two nodes out of sixteen were positive for cancer. I broke down and cried again. Now where else did it go? So what started out as what they thought was early stage now jumped to stage IIB. Within weeks I had bone and PET scans. The PET was clear, but bone was not. There were several spots. Now it was at stage IV.
I now had to think about another surgery; ovaries needed to come out. I sat and thought about this surgery. I had problems with pre-cancerous cells in the past that were supposedly clear and fine, so I thought if the ovaries were coming out then everything else can too. I opted to have a total hysterectomy. Well thank God I made another good choice. After having a pap smear come back as "NORMAL" in March 2007, my cervix showed cancer on the tip of it after being removed, along with one ovary and pelvic wall. I was devastated. My cancer was said to be grade II, which means moderate growth. That doesn't seem moderate.
I have yet to have chemo or radiation; I've only had hormonal therapy (arimidex) and Zometa once a month. My recent PET scan shows some progression maybe in bones. Radiation may be next. I find days to go better when I stay positive. I do have meltdowns but I guess that comes with this disease. I pray to God for a cure sooner than later but am glad the medicine is advancing all the time. For now I am off to live life and enjoy it to the fullest. Thanks to the YSC board. I have gained much support and am truly loved.