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Melisa’s Story (Thyroid Disease, Breast Cancer)

Melisa's Breast Cancer and Thyroid Disease Story When I was 28 I started to feel very tired and my period’s were all over the place. They had been regular as clockwork my entire life. I was also gaining weight quickly, in a three year period I had gained almost 100 pounds even through my eating habits were fairly healthy. It took three years, countless tests, as well as rounds of birth control to finally be diagnosed with thyroid disease.

My doctor and I finally got my levels in order and I was feeling better, when in February 20112, my iron came up low at a blood screening to donate and I was feeling pretty tired.

On April 4th, I was lying on my side talking to my husband when I leaned forward toward him and I felt a lump in my left breast. I had often done self exams and gotten touch exams yearly with my pap appointment. I had not felt the lump in February. I went to see my doctor the next day. She was very surprised by the lump. She was most concerned that it had grown so quickly. But this was also why she felt it wouldn’t be cancer because cancer doesn’t grow that quickly. However, she was concerned enough to send me to get a mammogram done.

One week later I had my mammogram. The mammogram doctor felt that I needed to have an ultrasound as the mammogram was inconclusive. They had an opening that day, so I went to get the ultrasound done. The tech was having a hard time getting a good view. Finally she was satisfied and I had to wait. My doctor called me the next day and said she was concerned enough that she was sending me to get a biopsy done. The following Monday I had the biopsy.

Fortunately for me the surgeon that did the biopsy was friends with the pathologist and he was able to get my results quickly. On Wednesday I was told I had breast cancer. I was then scheduled to have a mastectomy which I chose due in part to the location of the tumor, next to my nipple, and the likelihood it would return. After I had the genetic testing done to determine if my cancer was genetic or not. Unfortunately for me I don’t know who my biological dad is and therefore I have an unclear medical history. The results showed that I was Brache II positive. My cancer was in my hormone receptors which is why it grew so quickly. Every month when my hormones would surge when I was ovulating, the tumor would grow. It also means that it’s just a matter of time before I get it in my other breast and the likelihood of cancer in my reproductive organs is high as well.

In hind sight I should have known. Around July of the previous year I would get these severe pains in my left breast prior and during my period. They were every month but my husband assured me it was just another side effect of my thyroid disease. I went through chemo and refused to give in. I started school (I teach high school history) bald and sick from the side effects. But I wanted my students to see that if you choose you can face great hardship and conquer it without it conquering you.

Due to the Brache II results I had another mastectomy and a full hysterectomy. I began this school year without boobs as I don’t want to wear the prosthetic ones. My health is improving and I just need to decide if I am going to get reconstruction done and get new boobs or if I can live with not having any. I have been so blessed through the whole process by having a great support system. My wonderful husband has suffered with me and supported me and all my decisions to fight. My children (17 & 14), family, friends, and coworkers have made my fight so much easier.

West Virginia
Submitted 09/07/2013

The informational content of this article is intended to convey a personal experience and, because every person’s experience is unique, should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.

This story is intended to convey a personal experience and, because every person’s experience is unique, should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.

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