Stage IVB: Inflammatory Breast Cancer

There was this funny rash, which I dutifully ignored. It was under my right breast – no lumps, but the rash spread over a three-week period. Okay, okay, time to go to the doctor. Then it took two weeks to get an appointment with my general practitioner. Now it was really bothering me. He took one look and said I would have an appointment with an Oncologist . An Oncologist, what can be cancerous about a rash??

One of the most serious forms of breast presents this way – inflammatory breast cancer. Mine at that point was Stage IVB. I was given four to five weeks to live. I had chemo, and opted for a bi-lateral mastectomy – put myself in the oncologist (and God’s) hands. After my first twelve weeks, the cancer was no longer visible. I kept up with the treatment every three weeks; a new drug was out – Herceptin. It only seems to work in HER2 positive masses, but I am telling this story eight years later.

One setback – after eleven months, I came flying down my stairs, which I often do, and stumbled. If felt a little different so I called my doctor and he said to get right in – I laughed, but did what I was told. Here we go again; it had metastasized to my brain. I went in for a brain scan, and there it was. I stayed at the hospital, with my kids and their spouses wringing their hands while I had brain surgery for breast cancer – go figure. Again, let me say, eight years later…

I now go every three months for checkups, and I thought I should share my story, as I have with anyone who would listen. Don’t ignore rashes. I am truly blessed.

Judy McLeod, from Alachua, FL

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