When I was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 50 in February 2017, there was no doubt in my mind as to where I’d go for treatment.
I’d rejoined MD Anderson two years earlier as a patient care technician, after going back to school and working in other health care systems to expand my skills. And I grew up in Houston hearing other people talk about how great MD Anderson was. That included my own mother, who worked for a different hospital at the time.
I really believe in MD Anderson’sreputation, too — and not just because I work here. MD Anderson truly is the best place on Earth to go for cancer treatment.
MD Anderson offered me unparalleled breast cancer expertise
MD Anderson’s doctors know stuff about cancer that other doctors don’t. And they go over you with a fine-tooth comb, so they don’t miss anything. In my case, they discovered I had two different types of cancer in my right breast: HER2-positive and triple-negative breast cancer.
After my husband noticed a small lump in my breast, a routine mammogram showed I had invasive ductal carcinoma. Dr. Senthil Damodaran ordered genetic testing to see if the cancer had any inherited mutations that may have predisposed me to breast cancer. He wanted to make sure we had a complete picture of my situation before making any recommendations.
Before the testing showed I had two different types of breast cancer, my path had seemed pretty straightforward. The cancer was small enough that a surgeon could scoop it out during a lumpectomy.
But because part of the cancer was triple-negative, I needed chemotherapy. And because the other part was HER2-positive, I needed targeted therapy, too.
A choice of breast cancer treatments
Once I got my genetic testing results back, my doctors laid out my surgical options. I picked the best one for me.
I chose to have a bilateral mastectomy, because I’d heard of women who’d had one breast removed, only to have the cancer pop back up again later in the other one. I decided to have my ovaries taken out, too, because the mutation increased my risk of developing ovarian cancer.
I decided to skip breast reconstruction, though, because I didn’t want to go through addition surgeries down the road.
No regrets about my breast cancer treatment decisions
Today, I am still very pleased with my decisions. I’ve shown no evidence of disease since March 2018. And I’m comfortable in my own skin.
I like being flat and fabulous. I figure I started out in this world flat-chested, so why not end it flat-chested? Even my husband is onboard. He told me once while I was still in treatment that after I healed, we could chest bump. I love that about him.
Having the support of both my husband and MD Anderson, no matter which treatments I chose, meant a lot. That’s one reason I’m sharing my story now. Because it’s important to do what’s best for you — not for other people.
Besides, I can always have breast reconstruction later, if I change my mind. I’m very happy now, but it’s good to know I still have options.