Lorri Diagnosed at 39

"On August 28th, 2007, I became a 39 year old woman with breast cancer."

On August 28th, 2007, I became a 39 year old woman with breast cancer. Two months earlier, our family relocated for my husband's job from California to Colorado. This decision was difficult as we had both been born, raised, and schooled in California and our entire family was there.

Shortly before the move, I felt a breast lump. Having had a benign papilloma a couple years prior, I wasn't very concerned. I added "check out lump" to my mental to-do list and left it at that. Mid-summer, I dutifully went to see my new doctor.

"It's probably nothing," I told her. She agreed, but we both thought a mammogram and ultrasound should be performed. I booked the appointment for the Monday my daughters started school. It frustrated me that I had to hassle with a mammogram when I wanted to be out with all the rest of the Moms having coffee. My frustration became concern when the experienced radiologist patted me on the back and said, "It's really good you came in today." I was scheduled to return that Friday for a biopsy. As the days past, my research began. Before long, I knew "speculated asymmetry" and "acoustic shadowing" were ominous words. When I found that the "BI-RAD category 5" notation meant the highest probability of malignancy possible, I was stunned.

The biopsy revealed multifocal Invasive Lobular Carcinoma with multiple areas of micro invasion in all the samples. It was ER, PR positive and soon would be proven to be HER negative. I opted for a bi-lateral mastectomy. At surgery, the news went from bad to worse: 9 of 9 lymph nodes on the left side were matted together with cancer cells.

After further testing, the tumor results came back and we had a surprise. We knew the left breast was cancerous, but the right breast had a 3 cm tumor that had not shown on any test prior to surgery, including an MRI. More surgery followed to remove the right side lymph nodes. Twelve of 12 tested positive for cancer. My cancer was graded as Stage 3C. I would need chemotherapy as well as radiation.

Treatment included 6 rounds of TAC chemotherapy, 28 sessions of radiation, and follow-up treatment with Femara and Lupron. The breast reconstruction process ran simultaneously to the cancer treatment, with the final exchange surgery occurring in September, 2008. As of this writing in October 2008, I have one set of clean PET scans under my belt. I continue to blog about my journey with cancer at www.lorristeer.com. For some reason, I just don't think my story is finished quite yet.

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