In early 2003, my mother was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer (IBC). This was a traumatic experience for our family. She spent most of the day crying and moping. Our house was full of intense sadness. My mother often asked herself, “Why did this happen to me?” At times she tried to have hope by constantly telling herself, “I’m going to get through this…I’m going to win this battle.”
According to the National Cancer Institute, IBC is basically an advanced type of breast cancer. IBC differs from common breast cancer because it is rare, it has additional symptoms and the breast does not form lumps. People with IBC have a red, swollen breast that feels warm to the touch. The redness and warmth occur because the cancer cells block the lymph vessels in the skin. (Other symptoms of breast cancer are a lump in the breast, swelling of the armpit, discoloration of the nipple and unusual discharge from the breast. )
The American Cancer Society states that there are about 207,090 new cases of invasive breast cancer in women and about 39,840 deaths from breast cancer (women) in 2010.
According to the Mayo Clinic medical staff, the current risk factors for IBC included being a woman, being black, and being over the age of 50. I’m at risk because I’m an African-American female. Current research hasn’t shown whether IBC is a genetic disease.
The Mayo Clinic’s website also says that most people with breast cancer go through radiation and chemotherapy treatments. Radiation is used to target and kill cancer cells. Although radiation is used for just about every cancer; it’s usually adults who get this form of treatment. Chemotherapy is large doses of medicine used to target and kill fast growing cancerous cells in the breast.
My mother went through both radiation and chemotherapy treatments. The treatments made my mother tired and took up most of her energy. They gave her large doses of medicine, which caused hair loss and turned her skin dry and pale.
This intense treatment also took away some of the things she enjoyed, like getting a pedicure, manicure and going to the park. Those were things she had to limit because of all the treatments.
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My mother battled cancer for about two years and is recently in remission. Now she is back on her feet living a healthy lifestyle. She gets mammograms and checkups to make sure the cancer is not returning. She recently told SciJourner, “God has blessed me and He gave me the strength to move ahead in life.’’ Tequilla James
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