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My story started in September 2007. One day I noticed that my left breast was not the same as my right one. The right one was a typical, 51 year old, nursed 3 kids, a little saggy, breast. The left one was starting to become firm again! I had just had 2 mammograms and a well visit to my GYN, so I really didn't think it was breast cancer. Perhaps a clogged duct, something like that. Well... I waited till the end of Sept., the 25th to be exact, when I had a physical already scheduled. By then it was even more firm in the area down near the areola. I showed my Dr. and said, "do you think I need an ultrasound?" He said,"Yes." and that is when my nightmare began.

I went for my ultrasound, which was deemed "suspicious", so I then had to have a breast MRI, which ultimately led to me going to see a surgeon for a biopsis. It was determined that I had stage 2 or 3 (couldn't tell) invasive breast cancer and an agressive treament was needed. I went thru chemotherapy first, because of the size, then I opted for a bilateral mastectomy (28 nodes removed, only first 3 effected) and finally radiation. I then had a Lattisimus dorsi flap surgery performed for reconstruction purposes and soon I will have the final surgery where my expanders are removed and gel implants are put in.

I want to say my surgeon said that "knowing what he knew now, he went back and looked at all my past mammos and saw the cancer as far back as 2 years ago."

I am doing fine now, cancer free, still trying to correct some of chemo's side effects but feeling very good! Breast self-exams are so important.

Pati Schembari
Montrose, NY

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