Monday, January 21, 2013

Survivor Spotlight: Amy's Story

Meet Amy. Amy was a successful medical imaging x-ray technologist in Milwaukee County until she was diagnosed with lobular carcinoma at 40 years old. At first, the shape of her lump reminded her of a cyst she had at the age of 16, so she was convinced it was the same thing and did not go in for any tests. However, after some time she decided to go in for a checkup. According to her doctors, this type of cancer would have been difficult to detect in a mammogram, and Amy may have been living with cancer for two years before receiving treatment. Amy had no children and some distant family history of breast cancer.

While going through chemotherapy, Amy had a terrible reaction that caused her to gain a large amount of weight. The doctors stopped chemotherapy treatment for her and she chose to get both of her breasts removed. Radiation caused brutal burns on Amy’s body and she was admitted to burn care. After that, the hyper-baric chamber treatments took over her life, five days a week for three months. Unable to work, Amy began to struggle mentally.

Amy battled with depression throughout most of her life, but when diagnosed with breast cancer as she had to choose between treatment for her mental illness and treatment for her cancer. While trying to stay positive about herself and her life, she could not help but think “I was beautiful and positive and had a lot going for me and then this happened.”

The cancer spread to her lymph nodes and the medical costs began to multiply. Amy was placed on Tamoxifen by her doctors in order to keep cancer away, but because of the side effects, including pulmonary embolism, blood clots in her lungs, she is considerably ill. Because of this, Amy now has to receive shots to prevent the growth of blood clots and is taking blood thinners.

Amy has very little of a support system and often isolates herself from others. She is covered in bruises and some days will have seven or eight doctor’s appointments. Because of her inability to work, Amy was in dire need of financial support. Through her personal research, Amy learned about Susan G. Komen.

Although she remains financially unstable and struggling emotionally and physically with her health, Amy recognizes that those diagnosed with breast cancer need to “remain positive. Know you are strong. If you have the will to live, you will beat it.” Through it all, she is still able to say “Negativity is not going to take you anywhere. It’s about your attitude.”

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