I am so sorry for the delay in articles. I was having some problems with my computer and other issues this weekend. Thank you computer guy for reviving my computer once again! Today’s story is by another AC contributor. She is a very strong woman and a pure joy to read! Here’s Mary Carol Herwood’s story of her fight with breast cancer:
I am happy to say that I am a breast cancer survivor. I was diagnosed in January 2010, had a bilateral mastectomy in February 2010 and underwent four sessions of chemotherapy from May until July. My doctor told me after the chemotherapy sessions that I was cancer-free and had been since my surgery. I now take a pill called Femara each day for the next five years to aid in preventing a recurrence of my cancer. I am waiting for my hair to grow back; it seems to be taking a long time. They tell me it takes four months after your chemotherapy is finished. My friends have all told me that I had a great attitude all the way through and that is of prime importance for breast cancer patients. I knew all along that I was going to be just fine, so my positive attitude was genuine. Many friends were praying for me also. Great strides have been made in the cure for cancer; it is no longer a death warrant.
Mary Carol Herwood
Thank you so very much for sharing your story with us all Mary Carol, you are a brave woman.
Don’t forget to pay this wonderful woman a visit at Mary Carol Herwood’s contributor profile
Here are Mary Carol Herwood’s links to her articles about her breast cancer diagnosis and treatments:
I Underwent a Bilateral Mastectomy in February 2010
I Had My First of Four Chemotherapy Session Today, May 5, 2010
I Had My Second of Four Chemotherapy Sessions on Wednesday, May 26, 2010
In my articles so far we’ve discussed awareness, which is really the reason for this series. I have not however focused at all in the treatments. Perhaps if you read one of my older articles, it may scare anyone away from treatment. That wasn’t the intent though, the intent was to steer everyone into trying to find it as early as possible to hopefully avoid radical treatment. However, if radical treatment is needed please don’t fear. I know, much easier said than done right? From what I can understand by talking to breast cancer survivors, fighting is far better then losing the fight. They seem to become more focused at the task at hand, the treatment, than anything the treatment may cause. Because it is for the fight of their life. When choosing between a breast and life, life out wins by a mile.
What is a Total Mastectomy and When is it Usually Used?
The first type of mastectomy I will discuss is the total mastectomy. In a total mastectomy, the breast is removed but no other tissue is removed. This means the doctor removes the breast but leaves all other tissue and lymph nodes intact. This type of mastectomy is typically performed for women who have Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) and Paget’s disease with underlying non-invasive breast cancer. Besides performing this type of mastectomy for women who already have breast cancer, this type of mastectomy is also used in women with an extreme high risk of breast cancer. This would be called a prophylactic mastectomy.
What is a Modified Radical Mastectomy and When is it Usually Used?
In a modified radical mastectomy, the breast is removed along with the skin, the areola, nipple and the lymph nodes in the armpit area. Sometimes part of the chest wall muscles have to removed as well. This type of mastectomy is typically used according to the Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, for:
Early breast cancer
Locally advanced breast cancer
Inflammatory breast cancer
Paget’s disease with underlying invasive breast cancer
Mastectomy can be used for breast cancer in general. However, the above examples are a guideline for doctors. A woman can opt for less, like a lumpectomy, or more, if she wants to be sure all cancer is removed. Even if the doctor offers a total mastectomy or even a lumpectomy. I will use my aunt as an example. When deciding with her doctor on treatment for her breast cancer, they did testing in the breast which had no tumors or lesions and it came back negative. The tumor in the breast where they found its presence on a mammogram was fairly small. She opted for a modified radical mastectomy. Turns out when pathology came back after surgery that she did indeed have pre-cancerous cells in the “unaffected” breast. So you see, only you and your feelings on the matter along with a doctors expertise can make this decision. She is still cancer free, and this was well over ten years ago now. To see the guidelines used most by doctors when deciding with their patient on treatment, please visit The American Society of Clinical Oncology.