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DIAGNOSIS & TREATMENT PLAN

I’ve been getting screenings since my early 30s because I have been considered to be at high risk for developing breast cancer in my lifetime.

 

My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1995 (DCIS, stage 0) when she was 37 years old. She caught it early and could have a mastectomy without chemotherapy or radiation to treat it. She has been cancer-free ever since. I had BRCA testing many years ago, yet it was negative. I did a more comprehensive genetic panel this spring, resulting in negative results. Even though, at this time, science does not seem to think there is a genetic mutation connected to my diagnosis, my family history, along with other important factors, resulted in a 23% chance of me developing breast cancer in my lifetime. This is considered high risk, and this percentage allowed me access to twice-yearly screenings, alternating between breast MRI with contrast and mammograms. I have been getting screenings for many years; this was the first time I was called back for a follow-up.

 

Because I stayed on top of my health and didn't miss screenings, I was able to catch my breast cancer early and have a very favorable prognosis. TNBC is a particularly rapidly growing cancer, so getting checked every six months allowed me to find my tumor while it was still under 2cm (stage 1).

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I scheduled my regular mammogram for January 4, 2023. I went into my regular screening, ready to check this off my list, but received an alert that there was a suspicious small mass in my right breast. They advised a follow-up mammogram with ultrasound. At the follow-up, they determined that the mass was still present and that it was not a cyst. I had my biopsy on February 1, 2023. After the biopsy, they indicated to me that the way that the mass looked on the ultrasound gave them pause. It was the first time that a medical professional used the word cancer. They weren’t certain, and they would not be able to diagnose without pathology from the biopsy, but the radiologist performing the biopsy said that this looks likely to be cancer. I received the official phone call on February 2nd, 2023 with confirmation that my tumor was breast cancer (Invasive Ductal Carcinoma or IDC) and was referred to a cancer center. After all of the data was collected, and my oncologist met with me, I was diagnosed with Stage 1 Triple Negative Breast Cancer. 

I met with my oncologist on February 18, 2023, who laid out my plan of treatment for me. I would be doing neoadjuvant chemotherapy for five months. Four rounds of AC every two weeks, followed by 12 weekly Taxol treatments. I would be having surgery after chemotherapy. My choices for surgery would be up to me and in collaboration with my team. I would have many months to learn more and decide what felt best for surgery. After careful consideration, I opted to have a nipple-sparing double mastectomy in August 2023, followed by delayed reconstruction with implants.

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