On January 28, 2011, breast cancer hit home for me. My mother, a 39-year-old working, middle-class woman, sat my siblings and me down to tell us that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. My family was speechless. We could not believe that this could happen in our family, but it did.
According to the National Cancer Institute, breast cancer is the most common type of cancer among American women. It is the second leading cause of cancer death in women.
The American Cancer Society reports that breast cancer patients with diabetes are 50% more likely to die from cancer than those who do not have diabetes. Unfortunately, my mom also suffers from type 2 diabetes. She has struggled with this disease for over 11 years now. Statistics show that cancer patients who also have diabetes are at greater risks of dying from breast cancer. Normally, these facts would not mean a great deal to me, until now.
The American Breast Cancer Foundation says breast cancer is a malignant tumor that starts from the cells of the breast. They also report that a malignant tumor is a group of cancer cells that may grow into surrounding tissues or spread to distant areas of the body. The tumors are more likely to be malignant when they are firm and irregular shaped. The most common type of breast cancer originates in the breast ducts (ductal carcinoma). A less common type of breast cancer originates in the lobules (lobal carcinoma).
My mom is fighting metastatic breast cancer. The National Breast Cancer Coalition states that because of the studies conducted by doctors and scientists, most breast cancer is treatable, and can go into remission with the proper treatments and physician’s care.
“I discovered I had breast cancer after a series of mammograms that I had undergone earlier this year,” my mom told me. “I was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer that later evolved into metastatic breast cancer.”
Metastatic breast cancer is a stage of breast cancer where the disease has spread to distant metastases. This means that the cancer spread from the breast to other parts of the body. In my mom’s case, it spread to her ribs.
The two types of surgery that she had were a lumpectomy, which breastcancer.org says is a procedure in which only the tumor and some of the surrounding tissue is removed. She had the lumpectomy in May of his year at the American Cancer Institute in Chicago, IL.
She also underwent Gamma Knife surgery. The Gamma Knife surgery, as described by the University of Maryland Medical Center, doesn’t involve a knife at all. Instead, it consists of small doses of gamma radiation aimed at the infected area. The Gamma Knife surgery is normally performed on cancer patients who have brain tumors. Doctors felt this type of surgery was best for my mom because of her issues with diabetes. It was the better choice for my mom because of the way the small doses were injected, instead of large doses. The Gamma Knife surgery was conducted in September of this year.
According to the Siteman Cancer Center of Washington University’s School of Medicine, the two surgeries also require my mother to undergo continuous radiation treatments. These radiation treatments involve the destroying of cancer cells in the breast that may stick around after surgery. The treatments are conducted, as needed, in efforts to keep the cancer in remission.
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“I feel so much better now that I have had the surgeries,” says my mom. “The lumpectomy and the Gamma Knife surgeries have allowed me to live a very normal life. Besides the fatigue, mid-day naps, and the pain, I can function pretty well.”
I am glad to see that my mother is in good spirits and is currently in remission. My mother is bravely fighting this battle. Me, my sister, and my older brother are fully supportive of her and know that she will come out of this a winner.
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