Breast cancer has always hounded my family. On my mom’s side there are 6 or more cousins and aunts that have been hit with breast cancer. My grandma (mom’s mom) died of cancer that likely started as breast cancer but wasn’t caught until it had spread throughout her body. My mom has been faithful to get annual mammograms from the age of 35 on, and had several biopsies over the years that came back benign. This year my mom got a terrible case of bronchitis, something she’s always struggled with when living in a cold climate, but this year it hit her HARD. She was so sick she could barely lift her head off the pillow and it persisted for two months. At one point her doctor thought she had blood clots in her lungs and sent her to the hospital for a CT scan, which didn’t show blood clots but did show swollen lymph nodes under her right arm. Because she’d been so sick, the doctor said it was possible they were swollen due to all the infection. Over the next month she had her annual mammogram (came back clear), two ultrasounds under the arm (lymph node swelling increased) and finally a biopsy was done and mom went into that follow-up appointment thinking either she had lymphoma or nothing. Instead they found out it was breast cancer, despite the clear mammogram done on one of the brand new 3D machines. A very aggressive stage 3 breast cancer that was no longer present in the breast, only in the lymph nodes under her right arm.
We had already decided to move to Las Vegas and my parents were considering making the move when they got this news. They decided to go ahead with it, hoping the climate, medical care and proximity to family would help in this hard situation. I am SO thankful we all made the move. I don’t know what I would have done being far away while my mom goes through this. She did one chemo treatment before the move, the remaining 5 after, and is set for her double mastectomy on October 17th. Radiation after that. She is opting not to go through reconstruction and I am so proud of her and excited to help her find clothing that works with her new flat and fabulous figure!
Mom and I went to genetic counseling and found out that mom is not a mutant (ha!) which is such good news for myself, my daughter, and my nieces. We also found out I should start getting screened around age 35 and go every 6 months. MRI, then 6 months later a mammogram and ultrasound. Back and forth.