"My name is Allison and I am 32 years old. I was diagnosed on October 1st, 2013 with breast cancer at the age of 31. We found out a couple weeks later that I am stage 4 with my cancer being spread to the bone. I am also triple-negative. I have 2 kids and am married.
"In June of 2013 I noticed a swollen lymph node under my right armpit. I went to my new family doctor and she told me it was probably nothing and more than likely caused by a virus such as a cold and would go away in a couple weeks. I went back several weeks later because it felt to me like it had gotten bigger. She again told me it was nothing but suggested perhaps I had a bacterial infection and gave me a course of broad based antibiotics. When I went back again in the middle of August because I felt the swollen lymph node had gotten bigger, and said I was concerned about lymphoma, she suggested I had high levels of anxiety and needed to see a counselor. She wrote me an order for a second round of antibiotics just in case I had a lingering infection of some kind. Finally, I mentioned the cyst on my ovary from the year before and how I was supposed to follow up to make sure it had resolved. At that point she finally agreed to send me for a CAT scan from the neck down. The CAT scan showed both the swollen lymph node of 2 cm and a complicated cyst on my ovary, bigger than the year before. The radiologist suggested a mammogram for the lymph node and follow up with a gynecologist for the ovarian cyst. Although my Dr. said I did not need the mammogram, she went ahead and ordered one because of the recommendation of the radiologist. This screening mammogram came back clean...or negative.
"In September, I went back to my family doctor again and insisted that we do further testing for the lymph node. It was bigger and I knew something was wrong. Every instinct I had was telling me something was seriously wrong. She again told me I needed counseling but I insisted on a referral to a hematology oncologist for a second opinion. She sighed and gave me the referral. The oncologist felt the lymph node and started asking me questions, and told me I needed an immediate ultrasound. He called up the breast center and told them that I needed to be seen that day for the scan and within a hour I was at the breast center getting an ultrasound. It was September 26th. During the ultrasound they found the lymph node, as well as a small mass that was deep and high in my breast, right next to the lymph node axillary tail. They placed some markers on me and did an immediate diagnostic mammogram which also showed the mass seen on the ultrasound. I was scheduled for the first appointment they had available for a biopsy, September 30th. On October 1st, I got the phone call that changed my life forever, informing me that I had breast cancer and the lymph node showed cancer cells as well. Within a few days we also knew that the cancer was triple-negative and very aggressive at the highest grade of 3.
"Additional tests and scans that I once again had to push and argue for, showed that the cancer was probably already spread past my breasts and lymph nodes into my bones. My femur on the left, another bone in my leg on the right, my pelvic bone, and spine. A biopsy of the pelvic bone confirmed this and I was officially diagnosed with Stage 4, Grade 3, triple-negative breast cancer. On October 31st, I received my first dose of chemotherapy. Today my cancer is steady (has not progressed) and I continue my chemo treatments.
"I like to sing the song, 'Roar!' by Katy Perry as my theme song...for I am a tiger and I will roar against the cancer."
--Freedomchild82 (Allison), diagnosed at age 31
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