HEMOCHROMATOSIS and BREAST CANCER

Nine years ago I was diagnosed with Hereditary Hemochromatosis. It had been years since I had really felt well. I wasn’t sick, per se. Just unwell. I worked a physical job in the retail sector. Had been full time live-in caregiver to my mother in law with Alzheimer’s. I thought this is what life is about, getting older…. just couldn’t do what I had been doing. Wait I was only 48 years old. ONLY!!!

I finished the rounds of visiting specialist after specialist and the one I thought I would be seeing through the end of Time was a rheumatologist at the Brigham Woman’s Hospital in Boston, Ma. The symptoms fit. The medicines available did not fit what I was experiencing. Work, sleep, think about working. On the weekends I was just plain exhausted. The meds given for RA actually helped get a true diagnosis because my liver attacked right back. That led to further blood tests to understand why my liver was beginning to fail. Iron!

Six months of weekly followed by 4 moths of biweekly phlebotomy a routine screening mammogram found a suspicious area. Needle core biopsy gave a cancer diagnosis. I had a lumpectomy……it determined stage zero cancer (non invasive) was removed entirely. There isn’t a safe margin of error when some finds cancer in your body! Radiation followed. I chose not to have any reconstructive surgery done.

It was today, Sept 29th, 2009, the day I had the second procedure, a lumpectomy. It is this day which I celebrate my anniversary.

Initially I thought if get through 5 years I’m good. If the cancer does not return within 5 years it is thought chances of the breast cancer returning is over. This doesn’t mean I’ve breast cancer forever….. actually I’m more vigilant more than ever because I have too much iron in my blood. I have bi yearly mammograms as will as an MRI. Because the tumor was found to have estrogen positive receptors I also take an estrogen reducing drug.

Have a mammogram today. It could save your life!

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