The following story was told in a letter to us by Denise, a lovely woman in Alabama. Denise received Wink as a gift from the Breast Cancer Charities of America, one of the three partners we work with to help connect the donations from October sales to survivors.
In February of this year, I was suffering from a literal pain in my butt.
It had been going on since November when my brother had died. I thought I had pulled a muscle in my hip.
I was finally sent for an MRI, and the same week I went to my OB/GYN for my annual exam and mammogram. On Friday, I got a call saying I had to see a neurosurgeon for my back immediately and was scheduled for the following Monday. He said I needed immediate back surgery: I had a large mass on my spinal cord. I scheduled surgery for the following day.
I got back from that appointment and the phone rang; It was my OB/GYN.
They had seen something on my mammogram and needed me to come in as soon as possible. After I explained I was scheduled for surgery for the following day, they told me this could not wait and to come right in.
On the following Tuesday, I had my back surgery. It was a four hour surgery and by mistake I was sent home the same night.
Wednesday, I got a call from my OB/GYN and was told I needed a biopsy on both breasts. I scheduled it for March 18th–my birthday.
A few days after my biopsy, I got the preliminary results. They informed me [that] the initial results showed no cancer, but I still had to wait for the rest of the results. I immediately burst into tears. Deep in my heart, I knew that I had breast cancer. I was so relieved that they had found it this early.
On Monday afternoon, my phone rang. It was my surgeon. He let me know that I did have breast cancer, and I would need immediate surgery.
I had a partial mastectomy and removal of one lymph node which was negative for cancer. I was stage one and very lucky it was caught so early!
I went through 32 treatments of radiation. I was then scheduled to have my ovaries removed in July. I ended up having four different surgeries in less than five months.
I am still trying to recover from the back surgery. My life is filled with pain every day. I am going through physical therapy, trying to recover.
I just went to the OB/GYN for my six month follow up. On my mammogram, they discovered a lump. They think it is a cyst, but I am waiting to see my surgeon to see what he wants to do about it. It is located in the breast that did not have breast cancer.
I was told with medication for the next ten years, I have little chance of my breast cancer returning.
I had the BRCCA test done which was negative. I have no family history of breast cancer in my family. I have been a supporter of breast cancer research for many, many years. My former mother-in-law, who I loved with all my heart, had breast cancer as did her sister who passed away from it. I taught medical assisting for over eight years, and I always made a point of creating a team at the college I worked at to participate in the Breast Cancer walk to raise money for charity. I made sure my students knew how important self breast exams and annual mammograms were for breast cancer detection.
I, myself, if I hadn’t had the mammogram would never have found it. My breast cancer did not present as a lump and could not be felt since it was so deep. I never thought I would have breast cancer!
Thank you for your support of the breast cancer charities! It is my hope and prayer that in my lifetime, there will be a cure! Thank you again, from the bottom of my heart!
Denise’s story shows us that breast cancer can happen to anyone, at any time, regardless of family history.
Annual mammograms are extremely important, as a mammogram can detect breast cancer early–even when self-checking cannot. The 5-year survival rate for women who found their breast cancer in stage 1 or 0 is 90%.
Take this story as a reminder to schedule your annual appointment today. You can schedule a mammogram with your primary care provider, or through one of these a free or low-cost facilities. Proactivity is key – don’t take a chance on your health.