Breast cancer patients and survivors are commending the treatment that they now have available to them. “Being diagnosed with breast cancer used to be a death sentence”, said one survivor. “Today, with the right treatment and a strong social support system, coupled with the right lifestyle, we can beat breast cancer.”
Maris Medina was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1999 during a friend’s breast examination. This was 9 months after she had a mammogram to investigate a small lump in her breast. By the time her friend’s surgeon had recommended the immediate removal of the lump and an ultrasound of her liver, her cancer had progressed to stage IIIC—the penultimate stage to which cancers can progress.
Cancer stage is based on tumour size, whether the cancer is invasive, whether there is lymph node involvement and whether the cancer has spread.
Following her modified radical mastectomy, which removed her right breast and the lymph nodes in the adjacent armpit, she underwent a regimen of chemotherapy, linear accelerator radiation therapy and 5 years of tamoxifen followed by another 5 of letrozole.
During her chemotherapy session Ms. Medina began attending Bosom Buddies meetings, a support group foundation. She says that the group gave her empathy, as well as tips on how to cope with the pain and side effects of her treatment. The group also gave her a ‘Breast Cancer Recovery Kit’, containing various comfort items.
Such modes of support helped Ms. Medina to get through the treatment, as well as remission.