My name is Annabella. I am forty nine. I’m a cancer survivor.
I’m married to a good guy for nineteen years and I’m a mom of three great boys. I would like to tell you my story about being diagnosed with Breast Cancer and surviving! I consider myself fortunate. My Breast Cancer was caught early and my prognosis was good.
In December of 2012, I went for a six-month mammogram follow-up to my routine annual check. It revealed calcifications in both breasts. In most cases, the calcifications turn out to be benign. The characteristics of these calcifications were suspicious for DCIS (Ductal Carcinoma Insitu). This was the earliest stage of cancer. After the Radiologist called me back for a second Digital Mammogram where the views were closer and provided more detail, he recommended me to have a biopsy. I researched and used the internet to learn as much as I could about calcifications and Breast Cancer. This helped to ease my mind and answered some of my questions.
After receiving the recommendation for the surgery, I received a call from a nurse at the Breast Cancer Center at the hospital. She was known as a Clinical Care Coordinator. She was instrumental in helping me to manage my care, navigating my way through the myriad of treatments and appointments, answering my questions and most importantly easing the overwhelming anxiety that occurred with a Breast Cancer Diagnosis. If you have access to one of these nurses, most definitely utilize them. They can become one of your best friends.
I made an appointment with the Breast Surgeon for biopsy. She recommended that I have excisional biopsies on both breasts. In February of 2011, I had the surgeries. A week later, I had my follow up visit with the Breast Surgeon and I received the good news about the results of my biopsies: no Breast Cancer found. However, they found Atypical Hyperplasia in my right breast, which were some abnormal cells that increased the risk of Breast Cancer. I would need to be screened more vigilantly. I was also told that since I had dense breast tissue, it made my mammograms more difficult to read. I would also need to have ultrasounds. Almost 50% of breast cancers are failed to be detected on woman with dense breasts. Therefore, most doctors will recommend ultrasounds in addition to mammograms. Ultrasounds are painless and don’t emit any radiation. MRI’S can also be used in conjunction with Mammograms and ultrasound. All or some of these screening tools can be used depending on your risk factors.
My Doctor also suggested me to take Tamoxifen. Tamoxifen is a drug that blocks estrogen. Many breast cancer patients are estrogen positive. The tamoxifen blocks the estrogen from entering the breast cell receptor. Like many other prescription drugs, Tamoxifen may have some side effects. You have to weigh the risk and benefit when it comes to taking certain drugs. Prior to my diagnosis, I opted not to take Tamoxifen. That option would soon change...
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