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Know Your Body

Nikkole Watson

I woke up one Saturday morning in Oct 2021 to pain and swelling under my right arm. Contacted my Dr on that following Monday. She was able to see me within that week. Of course, by the time I went to my appointment, the pain and the swelling was gone. I was due for a mammogram since I didn’t have one the prior year due to COVID. My Dr wanted me to have a diagnostic mammogram so that the radiologist was on site and could read it right away. During my mammogram, I had discharge from my left nipple. I had NEVER had this before, so I thought maybe there was a scratch from the mammogram machine. Nope, no scratch. They saw a small lump that they wanted to biopsy. The biopsy came back inconclusive. This is how my journey began. Due to the blood discharge and the inconclusive lump, I was sent to see a breast surgeon. She examined me and found a second lump on the far-left side of my breast (which was so deep that she doesn’t believe I would have felt it). This second lump was biopsied and that’s when I heard the words BREAST CANCER.

At this point, I was considered very early-stage w/no thoughts of chemo. We discussed a lumpectomy, but the two lumps were too far apart, so the surgeon suggested a mastectomy. After a long talk with my husband, I decided on a double mastectomy. On December 14, 2021, I underwent an 8-hour surgery to have both of my breasts removed and a Diep Flap Reconstruction done at the same time. 3 Days before Christmas, the surgeon calls with the pathology report…… Stage 2B ER+ HER2+ Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. That meant 6 rounds of chemo, 18 months of immunotherapy and 25 rounds of radiation. My body responded to the chemo and immunotherapy well. The radiation did a number on my mental and my physical. I now need an additional surgery on my right breast to make it symmetrical to the left since the radiation tightened the tissue on my left. I will be on a hormone pill for 7 years.

Life has changed!!! I don’t want to think about the outcome if I hadn’t called my Dr for the pain on my right side. When you feel out of whack or something just doesn’t seem right, don’t ignore it, take the precautionary steps, and take care of yourself. Listen to your body!

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