My name is Jenn and I am a member of the student community here at LIFE; I am a future Chiropractor. Recently, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and this article, shares with you, my personal experience.
I’m a married 40 year old woman who happens to share a 15 year old with my husband and his first wife, one of my best friends. I usually live off radar. I am quiet, non-gossipy person and don’t like cliques and exclusionists. I have friends from all walks of life and love them all with my whole heart; many of them I met while here at school.
I received my cancer diagnosis not once, but three times. I was given a 95% chance of having invasive breast carcinoma. I found the lump the Wednesday night of finals week of Winter quarter. Saw the OBGYN the next day, had the mammograms and ultrasound and close up mammograms (first diagnosis) by the end of the week and met the surgeon Monday (second diagnosis.) The Thursday morning of break, four days before Spring quarter started, I had surgery and afterwards, the surgeon again reiterated his diagnosis to my husband Adam and my Mom who flew in from Oregon. Again, the diagnosis upon examination of the excised tissue was 95% chance of malignancy. The surgeon’s physicians assistant later stated that the surgeon was being ‘conservative’.
The size of the lump I found, guided solely to that spot by the innate one evening while changing clothes, was 2×3 mm. The size of the mass they removed during the ‘breast conservation surgery’ (vs. radical mastectomy based on the triple diagnosis) was 3.5 cm, leaving a four inch scar on an area of my body many women associate with their very femininity. Most of the time I leave the compression bandages on, letting the surgeon remove them for examinations and such. The next conversation my surgeon wants to have is a talk about reconstructive surgery, but I am not sure how I feel about that quite yet.
This all happened really fast. Before I knew it, within one week I was physically scarred for the rest of my life. But it was a blessing overall that we did not proceed with the mastectomy as the pathology came back with a diagnosis of Granulomatous Lobular Mastitis, a very rare condition which mimics, nearly identically, invasive breast carcinoma.
I was in the 5% category.
I dodged the bullet and I cannot begin to describe how thankful I am for that.
While I was recovering from surgery, waiting the full week before pathology came back, I started a charity craft project to raise money to go to women who cannot afford mammograms called ‘Beads for Boobs.’ But something else was on my mind while I waited at home before classes started this quarter… how would I be received on campus.
You see, a large number of chiropractic students as well as chiropractors themselves believe that medical intervention should not be necessary if one receives regular adjustments. Part of this rings true… Better spinal alignment leads to less nerve interference, allowing the body to respond better to the environment while less stress is experienced by the body. This allows our bodies own innate intelligence to regulate itself without typical allopathic interjection. I do believe that in whole. However, some in chiropractic believe that everything can be fixed or cured, type 1 diabetes for instance, with the ‘right adjustment’. And while opinions are like hineys, everyone has one, I ask for respect in return regarding my own beliefs. And my belief says that cancer cannot be necessarily curtailed proactively via regular chiropractic care. It helps, especially during cancer treatment for allowing the body to be on top point, but is not a sure fire cure or preventative.
As Dr. Koch, a professor of mine, will tell you, an adjustment would not have helped his retinas reattach. That had to be done by an ophthalmic surgeon who specialized in retinas just as my circumstance had me rely on a surgeon who specialized in breast cancer.
I still had no pathology report before school started again and carried around within me the worry that I too would hear the same rumblings in passing; that if I had gotten adjusted, or lived a more vitalistic lifestyle, I wouldn’t have had the breast mass. The assumption however by my medical team was that the mass was driven by hormones and if it indeed came back as malignant, along with node biopsies and other procedures, I would have to go on hormone blocking agents to prevent a recurrence.
I rarely get colds and never get the flu. I have had neuro-work done and recovered from Guillaume-Barré syndrome with the help of chiropractic. I love chiropractic and its potential so much that I am here at LIFE at 40 years old, to be a chiropractor. And while this surgery has changed me forever in a lot of ways, I celebrate every sunrise, rain drop and star in the sky every single day because I have received a reprieve from the triple diagnosis. A reprieve many, like my Aunt and Sister-in-Law do not. I am now passionately motivated to raise money for women who cannot afford to get mammograms so they can have them proactively and reactively.
I am researching cancer treatments that combine the acknowledgement of innate intelligence and chiropractic, which may lead me to practice focusing a specialization in working with patients who are going through surgery, chemo and/or radiation. I am thankful – thankful I still have that possibility in my future.
The statistics for breast cancer are below but the most hard hitting is that 1 in less than 8 women will have invasive breast cancer at some point in her life. This can happen to anyone, even men. Breast cancer awareness even has its own month, but self-checks should be done monthly and if you are 40 or older, annual mammograms. If you have had a lump, mass or are cystic you will want to discuss alternative screening timelines with your OBGYN and DC.
The American Cancer Society’s most recent estimates for breast cancer in the United States are for 2010:
- About 207,090 new cases of invasive breast cancer in women
- About 54,010 new cases of carcinoma in situ (CIS) will be found (CIS is non-invasive and is the earliest form of breast cancer).
- About 39,840 deaths from breast cancer (women)
- Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in the United States, other than skin cancer. It is the second leading cause of cancer death in women, after lung cancer.
- The chance of a woman having invasive breast cancer some time during her life is a little less than 1 in 8.
- The chance of dying from breast cancer is about 1 in 35. Breast cancer death rates have been going down. This is probably the result of finding the cancer earlier and better treatment.
- Right now there are more than 2½ million breast cancer survivors in the United States.