I wrote this three years ago this month, but needed to share it again. If you are a woman or a man, you MUST KNOW ABOUT INFLAMMATORY BREAST CANCER! The side bar shows a list of symptoms to look for. Google it, research it, know about it. Below are some links to assist you.
Please read the follow up on Amy's story at the end of this post.
My Sister's Story
Although this is written mostly from my perspective, I write this entry with the permission of my beautiful sister Amy who is a true warrior and survivor.
I remember the day last February that my sister called me.
I was sitting in my car in the parking lot at the community college where I was taking classes. My phone range, and on the other end of the line was my sister, barely able to speak. She was in tears after leaving her general practitioner's office and on her way to a breast surgeon. Her doctor had sent her from his office, directly to a specialist because of the urgency of his suspected diagnosis.
I went home and researched the symptoms she had that caused her doctor alarm and prayed that his suspicions were wrong. The information I found was scary, devastating, and grim. It said that, if her doctor was right, the statistics said that there was only about a 20% survival rate.
She called me that night and confirmed that her general practitioner's suspicions were right. She had inflammatory breast cancer.
The next several weeks were so difficult. There was a complete feeling of helplessness, fear, and hopelessness as we learned more about this type of cancer. As a family we were grieving.
But, soon after her treatment started, we saw that there was hope.
Amy began and aggressive course of chemotherapy. Within four months of treatment, her MRI and other scans showed that the cancer was slowing, retreating, and inactive. She had a radical mastectomy six months after her diagnosis and healed well. Additional scans and MRIs showed that her body was holding up well and responding to treatment. Her doctors are very happy with her progress.
Some of the hope comes from two drugs that are being used in the course of her treatment. The first is Zometa. This was originally used to strengthen bones, but according to Breastcancer.org, it has been shown to help prevent the spread of breast cancer tumors. The second drug is herceptin. Herceptin works by blocking receptors on cancer cells. By blocking the receptors, the cancer doesn't get growth signals, and therefore, stops growing. *
Another source of hope is that she has seen doctors that don't use a 'one size fits all' approach to treating her cancer. Her doctors have taken the time to understand who she is, what her cancer is, and how they can best treat her. Many of them specialize in only breast cancer treatment. From the cocktail of medications in her chemotherapy, to the surgical aspect of her treatment, to the physical and psychological aspects of her healing, her doctors see her as an individual, not a statistic.
There is hope in that there are many organizations dedicated detection, prevention and finding a cure for breast cancer. All over the country, groups gather to walk and run in support of breast cancer research. Corporations donate portions of sales of certain items to breast cancer research foundations. There is hope that each day research is done, is one day closer to a cure.
Although there is an incredible amount of hope in what can be done through people, the greatest hope is in the faith that she has, and that we have as a family. From the moment she was diagnosed, she has had an army of supporters around her. She is loved and prayed for on a daily basis by every one of them. As a family of faith, we believe in the power of prayer and are confident that she will find healing. We know that God is in control of every situation, especially this one.
That day in February started a long and dark night. But, as hope has set in, the sun is rising again, shining bright on my beautiful true warrior and survivor sister, Amy.
Update, Oct 2011. Amy is still fighting - a true warrior. Part of her treatment was a mod-rad mastectomy. She has undergone collectively 24 months of chemotherapy and a round of radiation. She is still in treatment and we still maintain hope in her full healing of Inflammatory Breast Cancer!
To read her full story, Please visit her site:
Amy's journey with IBC can be found at her website.
If you have a hope story, please be a blessing to someone who is in the battle. Reach out in an e-mail, phone call, or response to this post.
Next post: Cancer Blessings