Editor’s note: October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and the Chicago Sun-Times invited breast cancer survivors to share their stories. We’ll share these first-person accounts throughout the month.
I am a 16-year survivor of breast cancer.
My mother, grandmother and two maternal aunts were also diagnosed with breast cancer.
Because of this, I had early and annual mammograms. When I was 52, the mammogram indicated something unusual. I was called back for several other tests and six weeks later with a biopsy the “best of the worst news,” as my surgeon called it, indicated I had DCIS, ductal carcinoma in situ.
There was no lump found, but numerous salt-sized calcifications in the ducts. I opted for a mastectomy and TRAM rebuild of my right breast. “My bosom buddy was no longer my friend,” is what I used to say.
My general surgeon and plastic surgeon were diligent in my general health as I also developed an infection.
Early detection and annual mammograms saved my life as I would never have found a lump during self (exam) or doctor’s examination. That was the key to my detection and ultimate recovery.
I recently had the BRCA1 and 2 tests to see if I carry a genetic disposition or mutation to cancer because of the family history. I have two daughters and two granddaughters. Luckily, that test proved negative.
Today I am an American Cancer Society volunteer at the Wig Boutique at Wellness House in Hinsdale. “Paying it forward,” as they say.
Darlene Piasecki, Darien