Lori S. Love
“I am a realtor and in June 2014, I showed a client a 14 acre wooded parcel. When I got home, I showered and checked myself for ticks. When I raised my right breast, I felt a fluidy cyst. I had a mammogram in October 2013 and kept up with self-breast exams. I was not worried, but the next morning I called my nurse practitioner. She suggested that I come on in that day and let her check it. She also felt the cyst. She scheduled a mammogram and ultrasound for the next day. They both showed a dark fluid filled looking cyst. I breathed a sign of relief since these are usually benign. The doctor scheduled an aspiration and biopsy. I went for the biopsy and watched the fluid filled cyst actually disappear on the screen. That was good and I felt that everything would be ok.
When I called the next day for the report, I found out that the pathologist had decided to do extra stains. When additional stains are needed on a specimen, the pathologist is usually trying to determine the type of cancer that the cells show. I had hoped that everything would be ok, but then, I received a call from the Breast Health Center with the news that I had carcinoma of the right breast. Surgery was scheduled for two weeks out.
Lobular carcinoma is found in only 5% of the women who have breast cancer. It cannot be detected on mammogram but can be seen on an ultrasound. I began gathering information on that type of cancer while going through many tests, including a Bilateral MRI of both breasts. The left breast appeared completely normal upon MRI. I was struggling with the decision to have a bilateral mastectomy.
Surgery went well. When we got the results, they weren’t so great. I had 12 positive lymph nodes on the right side. The left breast, which we thought was normal, had five areas of cancer less than 1 cm which was a shock to everyone including my doctors. Remember diagnostic studies showed the left breast was normal. The next week, I went into the hospital again to have lymph nodes removed from the left breast that was surprisingly positive for cancer. Thankfully the left lymph nodes were negative.
On August 5, 2014, I started my first chemo treatment. After finishing chemo, I was scheduled for a follow up CT. The CT showed several areas of question on my thoracic spine. My oncologist immediately ordered a bone marrow biopsy which was positive for metastatic cancer. I went through more diagnostic studies and found out that I have metastatic breast cancer to bone. I have the mets in my right hip, sternum, thoracic and lumbar spine. The metastatic cancer was found very early. I immediately stopped chemo. I am currently on estrogen inhibiting drugs which are working well. I have tumor markers (lab work) every month that shows if the metastases are advancing. My tumor markers are very low now and I am so excited to be doing this well.
Although, I wanted the breast cancer to be done and over and forgotten, this is not how my journey was meant to be. I live every day to the fullest and live one day at a time. I have aide effects from the meds but I try very hard to push through these and make the most of living. I want to bring awareness to women living with metastatic breast cancer. I have learned a lot through a group that I have joined, Metastatic Breast Network. Sometimes, being a survivor means living with cancer and surviving each day while moving forward with faith and hope for the next one.”
- Lori Shaver Love