By Guest Blogger Tina Frey
In 2004, I asked my family practice physician to look at a lump I felt in my breast during my annual physical. He told me that at 25 years old, I was going through hormonal changes that would change the density of my breast tissue, but to keep an eye on it. Over the next two years, I assumed that the spot was documented in my chart and that if anything was strange, he would let me know.
Nathan (my husband) and I moved to Reno, Nevada in 2006. My family practice physician there agreed with my Wisconsin physician. Then my OB said that since I was pregnant, I could expect tissue changes due to hormones, and he pointed out that all of my tissue was dense. After I gave birth to Logan, he said any change was likely a result of breast-feeding – again, hormones.
We moved again in 2009 to Louisville, Kentucky. I was still breastfeeding. A fourth doctor in 3 states and 5 years checked the lump and found no reason to look further. I didn’t bring it to my OB’s attention when I was first pregnant with Parker, but the lump was always in the back of my mind.
Enter 2011, two children and a growing breast lump later. Tuesday, May 24 my OB conducted a routine annual exam, and asked me if anything was bugging me. I brought up the lump, saying that several people had looked at it, and it was probably nothing, but it felt larger to me .. .I also noted that since I was still breastfeeding, any growth was probably due to hormonal changes. She agreed, felt the lump, and said that we would do an ultrasound to put my mind at ease.
The ultrasound was performed on Wednesday. The sonographer went to get the radiologist (routine). He came in and scanned me further, and he asked if there was anyone he could call … he said the lump looked suspicious. I asked. “How suspicious?” and he answered, “Very.” He performed a biopsy to follow. I asked him not to call my husband Nathan because if they waited any longer, I was going to need a Xanax to get through it … “Just get it over with,” I said. And he did. He took 5 viable passes and placed a titanium clip in my right breast for surgical follow-up the next week.
The radiologist more or less said that if the biopsy came back negative for malignancy that we should do another one. Under ultrasound, there are 12 characteristics of malignancy. If a woman had 1-2 of those characteristics, the mass would be considered malignant until proven otherwise…my mass meets 9 of those 12 characteristics – I guess that’s what “very” suspicious looks like.
I can do all things through God who strengthens me. I am ready to “fight like a girl.” I am strong. I have an AMAZING support system, near and far. I have never felt so close to my friends and family, even those who are not close in proximity. I have too much to live for to let this beat me. This will NOT be on the short list of things that I am not good at! PINK is the new black. Getting there is going to be hard, without a doubt, but with God’s help I will get there. This disease will not define me, but motivate me. I am positive – those rose-colored glasses will certainly come in handy now. Don’t feel sorry for us – we are fortunate to have all that we have – this is just a bump in the road. My two beautiful boys and my rock of a husband are my motivation to beat this thing. LET’S DO THIS!”
On May 27, 2011 I was diagnosed with Stage II Invasive Ductal Carcinoma … it was the very spot that I felt in 2004 – the same spot that I pushed and pushed and pushed for someone to feel, to look at, to image. I was “too young” to have breast cancer … I was diagnosed at 32 years old, just 4 months after my youngest son was born. I blogged through my journey … it was a great way for me to control the information that was disseminated so that there was no rumor mill about my ability to cope or my disease progression, but it ended up being so much more than that. I found that blogging lead me to this amazing sense of discovery … and recovery.
Professionally, I am a director of radiology. I worked in a cancer center throughout my treatment. I mentor young women who are diagnosed because I want to give back. I try my best to be good to the body I have so that I can be here for many moons to come for those two boys. Personally, I am a mother of two beautiful boys (Logan is now 4 and Parker is now 2). I am a 2-year survivor who loves to meet 20-year survivors.
The only risk factor I meet for breast cancer is that I am a woman. I took action, and I am glad every day that I did.