My name is Jennifer, I am a mother of two beautiful daughters and married to the most loving man in the world. While I live in Texas, my home will always be Washington State. I am the youngest of four children–I love my siblings with all of my heart.
November of 2015, I was diagnosed with a rare form of breast cancer called, Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC). I was told I have three to five years to live. This aggressive disease in which cancer cells block lymph vessels in the skin of the breast, accounts for 1-5% of all breast cancers diagnosed in the United States. Inflammatory breast cancer progresses rapidly and because it typically does not present as a lump, often it cannot be felt during a physical exam and/or seen on a mammogram.
Eleven months prior to my diagnosis, I noticed redness on my breast. I brought it to my ob/gyn’s attention during a regular exam. Assuring me he was not concerned, he said if the redness did not go away in three months to come back in.
Three months later, I was in his office with redness accompanied with pain. After stating that cancer “does not hurt” and that the redness might be because “my bra was too small”, I was sent on my way with a diagnosis of “wait and see”.
Another month passed, I was back again as my breast was getting harder, the pain was constant and my nipple was slightly inverted. My ob/gyn asked me during this visit what I was afraid of. I had googled redness on the breast the night before. Through tears, I told him I was afraid that I had Inflammatory Breast Cancer. He convinced me that was not what I had and that he had NEVER seen a case in his office before. He ordered a mammogram to put my mind at ease. The results came back normal.
Months and months passed, the redness increased, my breast became swollen and painful. The pain spread to my back and down my left arm. I phoned my ob/gyn who sent me to my general practitioner, who sent me to physical therapy for 6 weeks. The pain in my back only increased. My ob/gyn then sent me to a breast specialist who diagnosed “mastitis” and prescribed ten days of antibiotics. Having not nursed for over 7 years, I was skeptical that this was mastitis but I trusted the breast specialist and after all, I am not a doctor.
Ten days went by and the antibiotics did nothing. I went back to the breast specialist who sent me to the top breast surgeon in Dallas. After a physical examination, mammogram, sonogram, and a biopsy–I was diagnosed with Inflammatory Breast Cancer. Scans resulted in a diagnosis of Stage IV Inflammatory Breast Cancer in my breast that had metastasized to my spine (ohhhh…the back pain) and liver. Inoperable and incurable
So here I am. Cancer has taken a lot from me. But it hasn’t taken my faith in God or my voice. I plan to spend the rest of my life being the best momma, wife, daughter, sister, and friend that I can possibly be while educating others about this awful disease. I am living with cancer not dying from cancer. Here is my journey.
Love > cancer.