Cross # 15.4315

Dawn
Landover Hills, MD

My journey as a Triple Negative Breast Cancer Warrior! I was diagnosed with Triple Negative Metaplastic breast cancer, a rare and aggressive form of breast cancer in May 2010 at age 49, Grade 3, Stage 2B. My tumor did not express the gene receptors for Estrogen, Progesterone or HER2 neu (Human Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor 2) protein… which is how I was classified as a Triple Negative, which statically affects black women in greater numbers.

I found my lump on my left breast, a hard round mass larger than a quarter on a Sunday on my last day of vacation in Florida, 9 months after my yearly mammogram. I was going to call the doctor the following day, but decided to call as soon as we made it home. Although there was no history of breast cancer in my immediate family, in my heart, I knew this was something serious. I saw my Gynecologist the next day and she had an alarming look on her face and said; yes this definitely was something that needed further attention. The next day I had a mammogram and a sonogram. Afterwards, the tech returned and summoned my husband and stated the Radiologist wanted to review the scans with us, which confirmed my thoughts of it being a benign cancer. A biopsy was scheduled and performed days later.
I received the conformation call 4 days after my biopsy on our way to the store. I turned to my husband and said: its cancer. He stared at me for a moment in disbelief, we continued on our way and had dinner afterwards. I was not alarmed as I knew from the day that I found my lump that it was cancer, yet I had no fear at all. I had a thousand questions to ask but had to wait until the next morning for the breast nurse to call. I turned to the internet that evening to try and research as much as I could about my type of breast cancer, there was very limited information available. When the breast nurse called I had plenty of questions waiting for her, from treatments to side effects, to types of medications to upcoming surgeries, you name it, and I asked it.

A lumpectomy was performed along with an axillary lymph node dissection. 7 lymph nodes were removed, 2 were positive for cancer. If cancer cells are found in the axillary nodes it increases the risk of metastatic breast cancer. The lumpectomy revealed that my margins weren’t clear and a separate 1cm tumor had grown along with the initial tumor in less than 2 weeks from my the time of my biopsy to the lumpectomy. The cancer was found on the margin line. I had to decide whether I would have another lumpectomy or a mastectomy. I felt that if it was on the line that they didn’t get it all, I spoke with my husband about my decision and opted for a mastectomy with a DIEP Flap reconstruction. A DIEP flap is a type of breast reconstruction in which blood vessels called Deep Inferior Epigastric Perforators, and the skin and fat connected to them are removed from the lower abdomen and transferred to the chest to reconstruct my breast without the sacrifice of any of the abdominal muscles. My surgery took 15 hours and it was a great decision, as yet another 1 cm tumor had developed and was found within my mastectomy tissue. My cancer (I named it “Lucy”) was still trying to spread in my body.

I continued to carry on my journey with a positive mindset to complete 4 chemotherapy cycles every two weeks of dose dense Adriamycin (The Red Devil) & Cytoxan, then 4 cycles of Taxol. All were administered through a port (port-a-cath) that was surgically inserted in my chest with an attached tubing guided into a neck vein to dispense the chemotherapy drugs. I did lose almost all of my body hair except for a few eyelashes, 7 eyebrow hairs on the left and 3 on the right (yes, I counted them!) before it started growing back in. With God’s grace and mercy, during chemo I never got sick, felt nauseous, fatigued or lost my sense of taste.

I developed Lymphedema in my left arm as a result of the lymph node removal (7) and Neuropathy (numbness, tingling, and pain) in my hands and feet as a side effect during my chemotherapy treatments with Taxol. I have since been diagnosed with Permanent Peripheral Neuropathy in both feet. This is all part of what is referred to as “My New Norm”, my body will never be the same as it was prior to cancer.

To this day, I have had a blood transfusion, dealt with mouth sores, radiation burns, hospitalizations due to infections in my left arm, sported a bald head, and endured PET scans, Bone scans, CT scans, MRI scans and Breast MRI Biopsies, all with my head held high and my heart full of joy. I danced (music was playing) into the radiation treatment center on my very first day with the staff looking at me with amazement. They said, “We have a LIVE one!” I laughed and said, “YES YOU DO!!” and endured radiation every weekday for 28 days. I actually began to look forward to going to radiation daily as I counted the days until it ended. I put puzzles together and struck up conversations with the other patients every day while waiting for my turn. On my last day I danced out of the office, jumping up and clicking my heels just before I went out the door.

It is a fact that I had cancer, but cancer didn’t have me. I pulled my Big Girl panties up, put on my boxing gloves and prepared for the fight. Through it all, I realized that God already had a purpose and a plan for me. He has prepared me my whole life with trials and tribulations that made me strong enough to fight this battle with courage, strength, and dignity.

Over the last 4 1/2 years, I have met and continue to meet many wonderful, strong survivors, women, men, and supporters through support groups, organizations, breast cancer conferences, and retreats throughout this journey. I feel this is why I was diagnosed with breast cancer, to be a voice, to educate others about survivorship, healthier living and awareness, to help guide and be an inspiration to those who have fought before me and are fighting now against this disease. I am honored to be involved with SOSI – Supporting Our Sisters International. I foresee many great changes in the way breast cancer affects women through the education networking and resources that SOSI provides. Everyone is AWARE of breast cancer, but It is most important that we take ACTION with breast cancer and that is our goal!

Dawn Smith

Landover Hills

My journey as a Triple Negative Breast Cancer Warrior!

I was diagnosed with Triple Negative Metaplastic breast cancer, a rare and aggressive form of breast cancer in May 2010 at age 49, Grade 3, Stage 2B. My tumor did not express the gene receptors for Estrogen, Progesterone or HER2 neu (Human Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor 2) protein… which is how I was classified as a Triple Negative, which statically affects black women in greater numbers.

I found my lump on my left breast, a hard round mass larger than a quarter on a Sunday on my last day of vacation in Florida, 9 months after my yearly mammogram. I was going to call the doctor the following day, but decided to call as soon as we made it home. Although there was no history of breast cancer in my immediate family, in my heart, I knew this was something serious. I saw my Gynecologist the next day and she had an alarming look on her face and said; yes this definitely was something that needed further attention. The next day I had a mammogram and a sonogram. Afterwards, the tech returned and summoned my husband and stated the Radiologist wanted to review the scans with us, which confirmed my thoughts of it being a benign cancer. A biopsy was scheduled and performed days later.
I received the conformation call 4 days after my biopsy on our way to the store. I turned to my husband and said: its cancer. He stared at me for a moment in disbelief, we continued on our way and had dinner afterwards. I was not alarmed as I knew from the day that I found my lump that it was cancer, yet I had no fear at all. I had a thousand questions to ask but had to wait until the next morning for the breast nurse to call. I turned to the internet that evening to try and research as much as I could about my type of breast cancer, there was very limited information available. When the breast nurse called I had plenty of questions waiting for her, from treatments to side effects, to types of medications to upcoming surgeries, you name it, and I asked it.

A lumpectomy was performed along with an axillary lymph node dissection. 7 lymph nodes were removed, 2 were positive for cancer. If cancer cells are found in the axillary nodes it increases the risk of metastatic breast cancer. The lumpectomy revealed that my margins weren’t clear and a separate 1cm tumor had grown along with the initial tumor in less than 2 weeks from my the time of my biopsy to the lumpectomy. The cancer was found on the margin line. I had to decide whether I would have another lumpectomy or a mastectomy. I felt that if it was on the line that they didn’t get it all, I spoke with my husband about my decision and opted for a mastectomy with a DIEP Flap reconstruction. A DIEP flap is a type of breast reconstruction in which blood vessels called Deep Inferior Epigastric Perforators, and the skin and fat connected to them are removed from the lower abdomen and transferred to the chest to reconstruct my breast without the sacrifice of any of the abdominal muscles. My surgery took 15 hours and it was a great decision, as yet another 1 cm tumor had developed and was found within my mastectomy tissue. My cancer (I named it “Lucy”) was still trying to spread in my body.

I continued to carry on my journey with a positive mindset to complete 4 chemotherapy cycles every two weeks of dose dense Adriamycin (The Red Devil) & Cytoxan, then 4 cycles of Taxol. All were administered through a port (port-a-cath) that was surgically inserted in my chest with an attached tubing guided into a neck vein to dispense the chemotherapy drugs. I did lose almost all of my body hair except for a few eyelashes, 7 eyebrow hairs on the left and 3 on the right (yes, I counted them!) before it started growing back in. With God’s grace and mercy, during chemo I never got sick, felt nauseous, fatigued or lost my sense of taste.

I developed Lymphedema in my left arm as a result of the lymph node removal (7) and Neuropathy (numbness, tingling, and pain) in my hands and feet as a side effect during my chemotherapy treatments with Taxol. I have since been diagnosed with Permanent Peripheral Neuropathy in both feet. This is all part of what is referred to as “My New Norm”, my body will never be the same as it was prior to cancer.

To this day, I have had a blood transfusion, dealt with mouth sores, radiation burns, hospitalizations due to infections in my left arm, sported a bald head, and endured PET scans, Bone scans, CT scans, MRI scans and Breast MRI Biopsies, all with my head held high and my heart full of joy. I danced (music was playing) into the radiation treatment center on my very first day with the staff looking at me with amazement. They said, “We have a LIVE one!” I laughed and said, “YES YOU DO!!” and endured radiation every weekday for 28 days. I actually began to look forward to going to radiation daily as I counted the days until it ended. I put puzzles together and struck up conversations with the other patients every day while waiting for my turn. On my last day I danced out of the office, jumping up and clicking my heels just before I went out the door.

It is a fact that I had cancer, but cancer didn’t have me. I pulled my Big Girl panties up, put on my boxing gloves and prepared for the fight. Through it all, I realized that God already had a purpose and a plan for me. He has prepared me my whole life with trials and tribulations that made me strong enough to fight this battle with courage, strength, and dignity.

Over the last 4 1/2 years, I have met and continue to meet many wonderful, strong survivors, women, men, and supporters through support groups, organizations, breast cancer conferences, and retreats throughout this journey. I feel this is why I was diagnosed with breast cancer, to be a voice, to educate others about survivorship, healthier living and awareness, to help guide and be an inspiration to those who have fought before me and are fighting now against this disease. I am honored to be involved with SOSI – Supporting Our Sisters International. I foresee many great changes in the way breast cancer affects women through the education networking and resources that SOSI provides. Everyone is AWARE of breast cancer, but It is most important that we take ACTION with breast cancer and that is our goal!

Dawn Smith

Landover Hills

My journey as a Triple Negative Breast Cancer Warrior!

I was diagnosed with Triple Negative Metaplastic breast cancer, a rare and aggressive form of breast cancer in May 2010 at age 49, Grade 3, Stage 2B. My tumor did not express the gene receptors for Estrogen, Progesterone or HER2 neu (Human Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor 2) protein… which is how I was classified as a Triple Negative, which statically affects black women in greater numbers.

I found my lump on my left breast, a hard round mass larger than a quarter on a Sunday on my last day of vacation in Florida, 9 months after my yearly mammogram. I was going to call the doctor the following day, but decided to call as soon as we made it home. Although there was no history of breast cancer in my immediate family, in my heart, I knew this was something serious. I saw my Gynecologist the next day and she had an alarming look on her face and said; yes this definitely was something that needed further attention. The next day I had a mammogram and a sonogram. Afterwards, the tech returned and summoned my husband and stated the Radiologist wanted to review the scans with us, which confirmed my thoughts of it being a benign cancer. A biopsy was scheduled and performed days later.
I received the conformation call 4 days after my biopsy on our way to the store. I turned to my husband and said: its cancer. He stared at me for a moment in disbelief, we continued on our way and had dinner afterwards. I was not alarmed as I knew from the day that I found my lump that it was cancer, yet I had no fear at all. I had a thousand questions to ask but had to wait until the next morning for the breast nurse to call. I turned to the internet that evening to try and research as much as I could about my type of breast cancer, there was very limited information available. When the breast nurse called I had plenty of questions waiting for her, from treatments to side effects, to types of medications to upcoming surgeries, you name it, and I asked it.

A lumpectomy was performed along with an axillary lymph node dissection. 7 lymph nodes were removed, 2 were positive for cancer. If cancer cells are found in the axillary nodes it increases the risk of metastatic breast cancer. The lumpectomy revealed that my margins weren’t clear and a separate 1cm tumor had grown along with the initial tumor in less than 2 weeks from my the time of my biopsy to the lumpectomy. The cancer was found on the margin line. I had to decide whether I would have another lumpectomy or a mastectomy. I felt that if it was on the line that they didn’t get it all, I spoke with my husband about my decision and opted for a mastectomy with a DIEP Flap reconstruction. A DIEP flap is a type of breast reconstruction in which blood vessels called Deep Inferior Epigastric Perforators, and the skin and fat connected to them are removed from the lower abdomen and transferred to the chest to reconstruct my breast without the sacrifice of any of the abdominal muscles. My surgery took 15 hours and it was a great decision, as yet another 1 cm tumor had developed and was found within my mastectomy tissue. My cancer (I named it “Lucy”) was still trying to spread in my body.

I continued to carry on my journey with a positive mindset to complete 4 chemotherapy cycles every two weeks of dose dense Adriamycin (The Red Devil) & Cytoxan, then 4 cycles of Taxol. All were administered through a port (port-a-cath) that was surgically inserted in my chest with an attached tubing guided into a neck vein to dispense the chemotherapy drugs. I did lose almost all of my body hair except for a few eyelashes, 7 eyebrow hairs on the left and 3 on the right (yes, I counted them!) before it started growing back in. With God’s grace and mercy, during chemo I never got sick, felt nauseous, fatigued or lost my sense of taste.

I developed Lymphedema in my left arm as a result of the lymph node removal (7) and Neuropathy (numbness, tingling, and pain) in my hands and feet as a side effect during my chemotherapy treatments with Taxol. I have since been diagnosed with Permanent Peripheral Neuropathy in both feet. This is all part of what is referred to as “My New Norm”, my body will never be the same as it was prior to cancer.

To this day, I have had a blood transfusion, dealt with mouth sores, radiation burns, hospitalizations due to infections in my left arm, sported a bald head, and endured PET scans, Bone scans, CT scans, MRI scans and Breast MRI Biopsies, all with my head held high and my heart full of joy. I danced (music was playing) into the radiation treatment center on my very first day with the staff looking at me with amazement. They said, “We have a LIVE one!” I laughed and said, “YES YOU DO!!” and endured radiation every weekday for 28 days. I actually began to look forward to going to radiation daily as I counted the days until it ended. I put puzzles together and struck up conversations with the other patients every day while waiting for my turn. On my last day I danced out of the office, jumping up and clicking my heels just before I went out the door.

It is a fact that I had cancer, but cancer didn’t have me. I pulled my Big Girl panties up, put on my boxing gloves and prepared for the fight. Through it all, I realized that God already had a purpose and a plan for me. He has prepared me my whole life with trials and tribulations that made me strong enough to fight this battle with courage, strength, and dignity.

Over the last 4 1/2 years, I have met and continue to meet many wonderful, strong survivors, women, men, and supporters through support groups, organizations, breast cancer conferences, and retreats throughout this journey. I feel this is why I was diagnosed with breast cancer, to be a voice, to educate others about survivorship, healthier living and awareness, to help guide and be an inspiration to those who have fought before me and are fighting now against this disease. I am honored to be involved with SOSI – Supporting Our Sisters International. I foresee many great changes in the way breast cancer affects women through the education networking and resources that SOSI provides. Everyone is AWARE of breast cancer, but It is most important that we take ACTION with breast cancer and that is our goal!