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Colon Cancer Prompted Me to Get a Mammogram

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My story begins in November of 2013. I was 51 and had been anemic for a long time and finally had a colonoscopy. Sure enough, colon cancer. I had a left hemicolectomy, recovered and was on chemo for 6 months -- just pills, so I did not get too sick and actually returned to work three months into chemo (I am an ICU nurse). Luckily, there was no lymph node involvement. So I thought I was free and clear, but 6 months after chemo finished, I had a routine mammogram. It had been 7 years since my last one...I had no family history so did not think it was vital to have them every two years. But the colon cancer scared me and I am glad it made me think about other testing.

I was called back after my mammogram for a diagnostic mammo and ultrasound. At this point I was not too concerned; lots of people have to return because of cysts, etc. But I had to have a biopsy, which turned out to be an ER and PR positive tumor in my left breast. I was in shock. I was scheduled for a lumpectomy, but in the meantime had a CT of my chest just to rule out metastases. Incredibly, the CT showed a mass in my right breast, which had been missed on the mammogram. A biopsy was done, and it turned out to be TNBC. So I had bilateral BC, two different types...very rare. Thankfully, no metastases were evident. The lumpectomy was cancelled, and I opted to have bilateral mastectomies. My surgery was in March of 2015, and I then had four cycles of chemo (TC), followed by 28 sessions of radiation. The radiation was only on the left side. My RO had wanted to radiate both sides, but could not figure out how without giving me too much radiation in the center of my chest. The left breast tumor had lymph node involvement, so that is why the radiation was done on that side.

I am very lucky...there was no lymph node involvement on the TN side. That would have been difficult to treat.

I had more treatment...a hysterectomy and oophorectomy, as a precaution. That was in November of 2015. Five months later I am feeling well - my hair has been growing back, I feel strong and have been dragon boating and working out. I am planning to have breast reconstruction but the plastic surgeon wants me to lose some weight first. It is great motivation! I have been off work during my entire treatment and will be returning soon. I am on tamoxifen and tolerating it well. My bloodwork is drawn every three months and has been perfect.

It is such a great feeling having it all behind me. I will be having genetic testing later this year...I have a daughter and baby granddaughter and want to know for their sake what their risks are.

-- AndreaC

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily represent those of nor are they intended as a substitute for the medical advice of physicians.

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