Breast Cancer Isn’t Always a Lump!
Are you aware of the symptoms of breast cancer? Do you do a regular self breast examination? Are you aware of how a healthy breast should look?
As women we are made well aware that we should do regular self breast exams as part of our breast health routine. We are trained to understand how they feel, and how to feel for lumps. But do we often pay attention to how they look? The reality is that breast cancer is not always a lump!
Our guest Terry Lynn Arnold of the The Inflammatory Breast Cancer Network shared her breast cancer story with a cancer that many women have never heard of – IBC – Inflammatory Breast Cancer.
Terry was diagnosed with IBC, an aggressive and, considered the most fatal types of aggressive breast cancer, in 2007. Terry woke one morning to find her breast discolored and swollen. Thinking she had fallen during the night or somehow injured herself, she tried to understand why she was having this issue. She made an appointment to see her doctor and have it checked out. Initially, her doctors had no idea of what was ailing her. It wasn’t until four months after the symptoms appeared that she was given her diagnosis of IBC. At that time, her doctor told her to go home and plan her funeral. Terry was in stage III cancer.
Terry made the decision to seek out a second opinion at MD Anderson in Houston, near where she lives. She was given hope when the doctors at the cancer treatment center there told her they thought they could help her. Through her medical team, the support of her family (which was made stronger in her battle) and with a determination to beat IBC Terry made it through her treatment. Today she is 4 years out from her diagnosis and is NED – no evidence of disease.
In the four years since her diagnosis, Terry has helped to spread the word about this little known type of breast cancer , sharing information with women, and organizations. She also shares with doctors and the medical community- which often knows little about IBC. Terry has shared her story in various media outlets and print publications, cancerblogs, newspapers and MD Anderson’s Cancerwise.
So What Makes IBC Different Than Other Breast Cancers?
Breast Cancer is not always a lump! IBC is a breast cancer that spreads through the lymphatic tissue causing swelling and inflammation. There are very strong visual clues (see the SISTER check on the side bar) including swelling, discoloration, dimpling and texture changes. There can also be pain associated with IBC. It is diagnosed in Stage III or Stage IV which means at diagnosis, there is a fight for life in full swing. Treatment for this type of cancer does not follow standard breast cancer treatment protocol.
Reaching Out and Giving Back
Terry has learned a lot on this journey and has been called to help others that are diagnosed with IBC. She has created The IBC Network on Facebook and The IBC Network .org, an organization that provides support, information, and hope for women who face this rare and often isolating type of breast cancer.
To hear the entire interview and more valuable information, you can listen to the broadcast at the listening links above.
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