In 2000, I was diagnosed with breast cancer from a routine mammogram. After meeting with the doctor and having a biopsy, I learned I did not have a lump – I had calcifications. The doctor recommended a lumpectomy; however, I did not have a lump! I immediately called Stanford Oncology and have not looked back. They saw me the same week and diagnosed me with a much more serious cancer which had already spread to my 8 lymph nodes. Within two weeks. I had my mascetomy and was in a clinical trial for Herceptin – which is now used in almost all high estrogen breast cancers. If I had waited or did not go for a second opinion, I would not be here today. Stanford moved fast and so did I.
In 2006, I went to a doctor here in Pleasanton because I had a red spot on my right thigh and it was not going away. He did not think it was anything and we could probably just watch it. I did not like that answer! I insisted on a biopsy and guess what, it was melanoma and had already spread to four layers on my skin! I immediately asked for my results and called Stanford. The next day, I was seeing the top Melanoma Oncologist and surgery the following week. No lymph node involvement and I went yearly for check ups.
In 2015, I had a cough and did not think much of it. In fact, I saw my primary doctor and she too was not concerned. The holidays came and went and I still had this nagging cough. My husband requested I have a local chest x-ray to make sure everything is fine. It was not – I had a 4.9 tumor on my right lung! What a shock. It was probably growing for years but I did not see the signs. The next day I had an appointment with the breast cancer oncologist and the melanoma oncologist at Stanford. They did a biopsy of the tumor to determine if it was metastatic melanoma or metastatic breast cancer. It was melanoma. The tumor was so large that they first thought surgery to take the lung out. You can definitely live with one lung. On a side note, my daughter is a nurse at Stanford and works in the lung and heart department. I would have been her patient. However, my new metastatic melanoma oncologist wanted more information before jumping into surgery and taking a lung. He had me meet with UCSF and Stanford arranged the second opinion for me. What a great feeling to have two of the top lung cancer doctors reviewing my scans and agreeing on a treatment. Yes, I had to have PET Scans, MRI and CAT scan to make sure that I did not have cancer anywhere else. I still go every three months for my PET but if that is what I need to do to stay alive, then that is what I will do!
After discussing my case with numerous doctors, my oncologist recommended a new anti immune drug called Keytruda. It just came on the market and they all agreed this is the drug for me. The doctors were right! After three months on the drug, the tumor shrunk by 1/2 and after six months, it had disappeared. It is truly a miracle – no surgery and no side effects!!! I am so glad I went for my second opinion and everyone agreed on my course of treatment.
I am not the type to procrastinate on anything; however, when it comes to your health, get help immediately from the best doctors and hospital that you can afford. It doesn’t matter what personal items you have if you don’t have your health!