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Early Detection Saved My Life

My message is simple: Do not ignore symptoms/changes in your breast, no matter how insignificant they may appear.

I was diagnosed this past summer with Paget's disease of the breast.

My message is simple: Do not ignore symptoms/changes in your breast, no matter how insignificant they may appear.

There was no history of breast cancer in my family so I was never concerned about this. When I began to have symptoms (a slight blister on the nipple that itched and bled), I went to several doctors. I was misdiagnosed by three doctors who treated me for dermatitis.

Many doctors have not seen this form of breast cancer as it is quite rare. A mammogram did not detect the cancer. Luckily a dermatologist I went to had seen this cancer before (in two males) and did not hesitate to perform a biopsy (in her office) immediately. As a result I am cancer free today.

Unfortunately, I needed to have a radical mastectomy (non-skin sparing) due to the Paget's disease. Pathology determined that my cancer was very aggressive. Timing in the treatment of this cancer was crucial. I was not able to have any other form of preventative treatment (ie. tamoxifen or chemotherapy) because my cancer was negative-cell receptive. I chose to have reconstructive surgery immediately following the mastectomy. It was a long and very painful surgery (six hours with two surgeons) but emotionally and psychologically it was worth it!

Early detection saved my life.

They say that cancer causes you to "live for the moment," but I really don't feel that way. My priorities have not changed. They are, however, more precious to me than before. Life is a gift and this new journey I am on is part of that gift. My blessings in life continue as a result of this illness. I have much to be grateful for. More information needs to be shared with other women about this very rare form of breast cancer.

—From Mississauga, Ontario (Canada)


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Updated  09/29/2010