Many of you have been writing to ask how my mom is doing. Mom, a very active 80-year-old that can run circles around most 50 year olds, found a lump in her breast and was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. Thankfully, she listened to me when I asked her if she was doing breast self-exams, did one, and found it. The doctors were amazed she found the lump because it was rather small, and they had difficulty finding it. She said that it wasn’t so much the lump but she noticed a difference in her breast tissue – it felt very hard. Thankfully, she knew her body!
Breast Cancer at age 80 with no family history of any kind of cancer was a shock to my mom and our entire family. But overall, it has been good news for which we are all grateful.
- Mom’s breast cancer was estrogen positive, progesterone positive, and Her2 Negative.
- Her lump was 1.7 centimeters – Stage 1, Grade 2.
- She had a Lumpectomy on June 26, 2014. It took about 4 weeks for her to feel really good again and be without pain.
- The Radiation Oncologist and Oncologist presented the facts to mom and me. No one recommended chemo. There was an 8% reduction in chance of recurrence if she did Radiation, but she decided against it. All the doctors concurred that at her age that was the best decision.
- She is awaiting results from the Dexi Bone Density Scan to see if she can start Arimidex. I am hoping she can tolerate it because Arimidex cuts your risk of recurrence by up to 50%.
Breast cancer is still breast cancer at whatever age, whatever stage, and is extremely frightening and devastating. The fear of recurrence is present no matter what, and it is something you have to learn to coexist with on a daily basis.
My mom’s post-lumpectomy breast looks no different from her before breast cancer breast. It is not sunk in, has no deformity, and other than the 2.5 inch scar that is already starting to fade, that fact is quite amazing to me. A surgeon’s experience plays into this greatly. I am always preaching to women to make sure they go to a BREAST SURGEON that only does breast surgeries. Dr. Jessica Bensenhaver, the surgeon who did my mom’s Lumpectomy, is at the University of Michigan. I asked Dr. Bensenhaver how many breast surgeries she did in the past year. Her response, “I have done over 300 this year and did over 300 the previous year.” That is a lot of experience. It is also extremely beneficial to have surgery at a cancer center that has the ability to test the tumor margins while the patient is in surgery. This greatly lessens the chance of having to have yet another surgery to clear those margins!
Studies show that women who have had surgery by a breast surgeon have less rate of recurrence than those who had a general surgeon. That is certainly something to consider and take seriously.
Thank you for your thoughts and prayers for my mom. We are all grateful. And make sure you tell the elderly women in your life not to stop getting those mammograms!