Stage III Her2+

In January of 2011, I was diagnosed with Stage III HER2+ breast cancer. I had a history of breast cysts, and many aspirations in the past several years. Every time I had my routine mammogram, I had an ultrasound too.

When I went for my mammogram, the radiologist told me that it looked good, and I didn’t need an ultrasound. I was already scheduled for it, and I made it clear that I would not leave without it. During the ultrasound, I noticed that the technician looked ashen. She saw something under my armpit, and my lymph nodes looked enlarged. The radiologist came in, and scanned me himself. He told me the same thing; I could tell by his tone that he was concerned. I was scheduled for a biopsy the next morning.

Forty-eight hours later, I got the devastating diagnosis. I went through a battery of diagnostic tests, and found a large mass that was axillary and at least six positive nodes. Then I endured sixteen weeks of chemo, two surgeries, and thirty-three rounds of radiation. I was infused every three weeks with Herceptin for a year.

I am happy to say that I’m showing no signs of cancer. Other than problems caused by lymphedema, I feel great. Let my story be a lesson: be your own advocate. If I wasn’t insistent on getting that ultrasound, I shudder at the thought of what would have happened. I am now involved with local breast cancer groups, and sharing my story. Never take “no” for an answer. I didn’t, and it saved my life.

Paula Duggan, from Bradford, MA

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