KANSAS CITY, Missouri - In mid-June I received the telephone call that would change my life.
Lab results from a biopsy of a tumor in my left breast were positive. The doctor informed me that I have breast cancer.
My heart sank and tears began to fill my eyes.
My husband Ed was with me when I received the call. He held my hand and he prayed for strength hope, guidance, faith and courage.
In a warm, loving and long embrace, he spoke the words that lifted my heart that earlier sank when I got the news.
My wonderful husband of 10 years this October told me that we are in this together and he will always be there for me. My heart that sank began to rise.
Then my reporter insights kicked-in. I started thinking about all the breast cancer survivor stories that I’ve done over the years and I remembered all the advances in technology and treatment that are helping women survive and live long productive, healthy lives.
A smile peaked through on my lips as I embraced my husband.
I told him we’re going to make some good come out of this and that’s why I’m sharing my story with anyone who will listen.
I am so grateful for the women who shared their stories on television with us reminding us to get our mammograms and do our monthly breast self-exams.
I have faithfully followed their advice and I believe their words have saved my life.
Every November I faithfully get a mammogram; but the mammogram did not detect my breast cancer.
I felt a tumor in my left breast while I was in the shower doing a self-exam.
I knew not to wait. The next day I called Saint Luke’s Hospital Center for Breast Care and was in getting a new mammogram that week.
The same day I received a sonogram and was scheduled for a biopsy the next day.
The Monday following Father’s Day the doctor called with the lab report.
Every day that week was consumed with medical appointments with my oncologist and my surgeon. The next week I also had two MRIs and a PET scan. I had a port implanted and I received my first chemotherapy treatment.
Doctors explained that the chemotherapy will shrink the tumor so surgeons can remove it with a lumpectomy procedure saving the majority of my breast tissue.
Since being diagnosed with breast cancer, I have learned that mammograms are not as effective in detecting breast cancer in women with dense breast tissue.
Dr. Ruby Meierotto is a radiologist at Saint Luke’s Health System.
“Mammograms are only 60 percent effective in detecting breast cancer in women with moderately or extremely dense breast tissue,” said Meierotto.
The dense breast tissue can sometimes hide tumors.
Meierotto advises women to first get a mammogram, and then ask their physician if an ultra sound or breast MRI would be helpful.
“Women need to know if they have dense breast tissue and work with their physicians to get the right diagnostic tools in place,” she added.
There is another diagnostic tool that was recently approved by the FDA.
It’s called 3-D tomosynthesis.
“It’s similar to a CAT scan where several images are taken and those images help to eliminate overlying breast tissue especially women with dense tissue that can obscure those cancers,” said Meierotto.
3-D tomosynthesis is not yet available but metro hospitals are making plans to add the new technology.
My battle is still in the early stages. I have six more chemo treatments and surgery and possibly radiation.
But I have much hope.
I am not in this battle alone. I have my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, the strength and love and support of my husband Ed, my church family, my work family and faithful viewers and supporters at NBC Action News.
I pray my life experience will be an inspiration and a reminder of the importance of mammograms, sonograms and the power of true love.
For more information about breast cancer, visit www.saintlukeshealthsystem.org and www.komenkansascity.org . NBC Action News is proud to the media sponsor for the Susan G. Komen Kansas City Race for the Cure.