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March 19, 2020 – Tammy Summers
The Roulette Wheel of Cancer Medication- Why I Stopped Playing
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The Chronicles of Cancer
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The Importance of A Routine Checkup

BY Sheri Albert
PUBLISHED January 28, 2020
At 47, I was a perfectly healthy girl, I exercised daily, and had always been compliant to have my annual checkups, which included a routine mammogram and breast ultrasound. My annual visit began with the standard mammogram. My preliminary results showed all clear and I was moved onto the ultrasound room as part of my normal process for me due to breast density.

I couldn't have been more stunned when the radiologist told me the ultrasound showed an area of concern on my left breast and her recommendation would be a biopsy. My life changed forever, August 11, 2017 at 11:45am, as I became "1 in 8 Women " when I got the devastating phone call from my physician that my biopsy and imaging results showed invasive breast cancer with 3 tumors — one dangerously close to my chest wall. I needed to be seen by an Oncologist Surgeon ASAP.

The overwhelming fear and shock immediately set in that I had cancer and didn't even know it. Everything in my life came to a screeching halt as I had a new reality "Cancer didn't Care". The day of my breast cancer diagnosis I had undergone testing of the BRCA Gene along with 28 other gene cancer tests. All came back negative along with my routine lab work. My results were normal. After much discussion with what I like to call my dream team of doctors, the best chance of beating my cancer was to undergo a seven-hour life-saving operation by having a bilateral mastectomy and placement of tissue expanders. breast cancer

The expanders were used to stretch the skin so I could undergo reconstructive surgery months later. My cancer diagnosis made me realize that there were two roads in life I could choose from, one to be "bitter" or the other road being "hope". I chose the road of "hope". The outlook was good, I was cancer free, as I got married last year, life seem to be getting back to normal.

Until October 2019, when another mass was found on my right breast while doing my own self-examination. I immediately scheduled a visit with my oncologist surgeon, and she ordered an ultrasound right away. The findings from the radiologist, again showed an area of concern as I was told there was a suspicious malignancy and a breast biopsy would be needed. My thoughts immediately went to the fear of another cancer reoccurrence. It was heartbreaking but I knew I was not going down without a fight.

I had three biopsies taken and then I waited. I expected the next few days to be difficult so I tried to keep busy as I would only allow positive thoughts while I continue to remain hopeful. Sooner than expected, the day after my biopsy I received a call from my oncologist surgeon telling me my biopsy results came back negative for cancer— the mass was benign. However, I will need to have another breast ultrasound in six months as we will continue to monitor it. This was the "best news" I felt like I had my life back. Cancer wants you to ignore going to the doctor and not having a routine imaging this way it has more time to spread to your body without you knowing it counting on it being too late by the time it's found.

Please listen to your doctors and get your annual mammogram/breast ultrasound, go for all your routine checkups, do your monthly self-breast exams. I am blessed and grateful to be a two-year survivor. I'm in remission and will continue to be closely monitored staying positive and hopeful. I'm very thankful to my amazing medical team that saved my life. As well as, the unconditional support from my friends, family, and most of all, my husband who's been my rock and supported my decisions every step of the way. 
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