My Personal Journey in Outsmarting Breast Cancer: Part 1 Diagnosis

My Personal Journey in Outsmarting Breast Cancer: Part 1 Diagnosis

This is my personal story of my battle to outsmart breast cancer that was first diagnosed on April 7th, 2021. I share my journey in what I’ve learned and what I have applied and experiment to do that seems to be helping me. I am not a doctor or a healthcare professional, nor am I advising you to do any of the things I am doing because every body is different and there are numerous cancer types. Please consult with your doctor before doing any of the things I write about. You may agree with me, and you may disagree with me at times. I invite you to write to me at letters@inflammationguide.com to share your thoughts and what has helped you too. The way I see it, the more information we have, a mindset of fear is replaced with empowerment. Weakening cancer is not a single sided approach either, it requires a combination of strategies to block and shrink its advance. I hope that this information helps you as much as I believe it is helping me.

It was the day after Easter 2021, my husband and I and two young kids had just drove three hours from our home in the Texas Hill Country to Houston to celebrate Easter with our family and friends. Jon drove back home with the kids because school started on Monday. I stayed behind in Houston to see my OB-GYN doctor of ten years who delivered both my babies, for a well woman exam. My last exam was in February of 2020 right before the pandemic shutdown.

My first cause for alarm was when my doctor looked at me without much of a physical breast exam and immediately asked how long I was staying in town because she needed me see a breast specialist right away.

“I thought you said last year that I had fibrocystic breast disorder?” I asked calmly, afterall I have had dense breast tissue in one breast all my life.

“Yes,” she said, “but things look much different from last time I saw you. Did you get the breast MRI that I ordered last year? Fibrocystic breast disorder makes detecting breast cancer more obscure.” I explained that at the time, I had just had a 3D mammogram in May of 2019 which was normal, and I had put it off in 2020 due to the pandemic.

When I first noticed changes in my breast in the Fall of 2020, I immediately took to the internet to falsely relieve my concern. My online research said that fibrocystic breast disease is a very common and harmless condition that may show changes in the breast which give it a lumpy, irregular or ropelike texture with or without pain and tenderness. I certainly didn’t fit the description of breast cancer, which I knew little about at the time, because the online symptom checker said early symptoms of breast cancer may include a new lump in the underarm or in breast, itching or discharge from the nipples, and skin texture change. I didn’t have any of that, except the visible skin texture change. I would later find out that symptoms will vary and my type of breast cancer is less common and therefore would not fit the classic description.

As my doctor began texting a prominent breast specialist to fit me in that day, I began to realize the online symptom checker lead me astray. The next thing I knew I was waiting in the lobby for the breast surgeon to see me. My heart was pounding and I was feeling so confused with racing thoughts. How could I be here? Throughout my adult life, I had always cared about my health and took a personal interest in learning about wellness. After all, I founded Inflammation Guide in April 2020, well before I was diagnosed. Cancer did not run in the family that I was aware of. I always thought of myself as the healthiest person I knew. I shopped regularly at a major national health food grocery store chain, I rarely ate fast food and fried food. I avoided sugar, sodas, candy, cookies, gluten, and processed foods in general. I read nutrition labels, avoiding trans fats, high fructose corn syrup and preservatives such as MSG. I went so far as to use natural deodorant, cosmetics, and cleaning products while scrupulously checking the Environmental Working Group Skin Deep site for clean product ratings before using.

The only thing at the time I knew I needed to improve upon was more regular exercise. But I was recovering from several challenging years that did not let up. I was tired alot and mentally exhausted. I had spent twenty uninterrupted years working in corporate America, that over the years relocated me and my husband, Jon, to Chicago and Houston. I was one of the few women nationally in senior specialist roles, for a major reinsurance carrier and prior to that, in the health and employee benefit insurance industry. I often traveled to give presentations to clients in multiple states and worked through vacation days.

In my private life, starting in my mid thirties I did invitro fertilization and three frozen embryo transfers that finally resulted in my daughter being born when I was 38 years old. My son was a surprise present after a cruise in 2015 when I was 42 years old. I feel certain that the hormone treatments and having babies later in life increased my risk for breast cancer, although my doctors will not say. This coupled with the emotional blows dealt in recent years, I believe resulted in a compromised immune system and internal environment that allowed the cancer to grow.

I look back over the years of back-to-back life changing events. Jon and I were living in Houston and survived Hurricane Harvey in 2017, we also moved two times, and I started having short bouts of vertigo. We had three close elder family members pass away in a 12 month period that produced much grief, including my father suddenly and my husband’s father who had deteriorating health for many years. As a result, there were five homes in a 12 month period that needed to be dealt with: I assisted with the homes of the three family members who had deceased, our own home when we moved to New Braunfels in January of 2019 that we bought before the other family deaths happened, and I moved my mother to an Assisted Living home near me as well. My own husband came down with pneumonia in 2018 and he was hospitalized for a bone infection in which he had to carry a pouch around that he named “Gretchen” that held his IV antibiotic for several months. Dare I mention 2020…

I was your typical Type A personality, and this Type A was burned out. It was then that Jon and I decided I should take a much needed sabbatical and I left work for the first time in twenty years in October 2018. We moved from the hustle and bustle of Houston to the beautiful Texas Hill Country in January of 2019. All I knew at the time, is that we were in a peaceful place to heal from the intensity of the last several years, and our goal was to enjoy life more.

“You have invasive lobular breast carcinoma,” my breast surgeon said over the speaker phone three days after the biopsy was performed in her office. I felt the floor yank away, I felt a weight fall, I sucked in my breath and became disoriented. Luckily Jon was there with me and we wrote down notes that the pathology report gave the diagnosis that my breast cancer is estrogen positive, progesterone positive, and Her2 negative. The breast ultrasound showed a 4.5 cm tumor that spread to one lymph node, possibly two. She said I have a less common type of breast cancer, affecting about 10% of people with invasive breast cancer. According to Lobular Breast Cancer Alliance, invasive lobular breast cancer (ILC) is the sixth most frequently diagnosed cancer of women in the US with nearly 44,000 new patients diagnosed each year. ILC is a unique subtype of breast cancer with distinct biological and behavioral differences.

The American Cancer Society states that breast cancer in general is the most common cancer in American women, except for skin cancers, and the average risk is 13% of women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. This translates to a 1 in 8 chance a woman will develop the disease. In 2021, it is estimated 281,550 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in the United States.

Factors that can affect your outlook include the cancer stage, your age, your general health, how well the cancer responds to treatment, tumor grade, the presence of hormone receptors on the cancer cells, including Her2 status.

The 5-year Relative Survival Rate is based on data between 2010 and 2016, and it is estimated that 90% of most women first diagnosed with breast cancer is estimated to live for at least 5 years after being diagnosed compared to women not diagnosed with cancer.

I believe that today the survival rate is much higher due to recent technological advances in breast cancer diagnosis and treatment since 2016. There are numerous clinical trials underway, and important cancer fighting books written that shed light on what you can do in conjunction with conventional cancer treatment to improve your outlook, if you so choose. I personally found Jane McLelland’s How to Starve Cancer book and online course a God send. Join me in my journey to outsmart cancer.

About The Author

Kendra Evans

Kendra Evans founded Inflammation Guide in April 2020. Our goal is keeping our readers informed to help them live an empowered and full life while they manage inflammation. Inflammation Guide provides a central location for breaking news and updates on prescriptions, treatments, supplements and alternative wellness solutions to give options to people living with at least one inflammatory condition.

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