Stage 3 breast cancer survivors can often help women who have been newly diagnosed with a stage 3 breast cancer tumor by sharing their experiences. The Breastlink Angels 2013 calendar shared many inspiring stories. Diana’s journey was featured in the February chapter.
Stage 3 Breast Cancer Survivors – Diana A.
- Diana A. – Age 54
- Diagnosis – July 2006
- Invasive Lobular Carcinoma Stage IIIC
It was 6 years after the sudden death of my husband. My teenage sons and I were just getting back to some real sense of normalcy. My oldest son, Bryce, was starting his senior year of high school and my youngest, Ryan, was a sophomore.
While getting out of the shower one morning, I noticed a change in the shape of my right breast. I had completed my mammogram and had seen my physician for my clinical exam 6 months prior. There were no unusual findings. I completed my monthly Breast Self Exam the week before which also appeared to be “normal.” But, looking at my breast at that moment, I knew something was clearly wrong.
I saw my physician who referred me to Breastlink. Following the Clinical Exam, ultrasound and biopsy, the words came, “you have cancer.” I had Invasive Lobular Cancer. Fifteen percent of breast cancers are of this type, and often does not show up on mammogram, does not present with a lump and therefore is frequently more advanced when diagnosed.
With our family, friends, church and community rallying around us once again, my sons’ and my world immediately headed into another tailspin. I was introduced to Michael Ann, a breast cancer survivor and volunteer with Breastlink. I was in awe of her strength and so appreciative of her support and time. It was so helpful to talk to someone who walked this path before me.
Within 3 weeks of my diagnosis, I had a double mastectomy with immediate reconstruction, followed by the chemotherapy with all of its fury, radiation and more surgery.
Flash forward six years, I am still here to tell my story to anyone and everyone who will listen. I am living proof that Breast Self Exams work. Had I not been so familiar with the appearance of my breast, the cancer would not have been detected when it was and I can almost say with certainty that I would not be here today sharing my story with you. And while the mammogram in my case did not detect the cancer, it too, is a vital tool that every woman should have done annually based on the appropriate guidelines.
And for this reason I volunteer my time to help women be better educated in terms of their breast health and to be that support for the next woman who must make this journey, just as Michael Ann was for me.