Susan Feinberg, Stoughton/West Dennis, Massachusetts
I am BRCA1+, have been treated for both breast and fallopian cancer, the latter being detected as a result of my salpingo-oopherectomy
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I am single, of Ashkenazi Jewish descent. Strong family history of breast cancer, esp. on my father's side of the family but some on my mother's side as well (her younger sister). Three cousins had already tested positive before I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009. Received positive BRCA1 test a few weeks before going ahead with lumpectomy, followed by axillary lymph node dissection because sentinel lymph node was positive for cancer. Stage IIA. Surgery was followed by 17 weeks of chemo (9 weeks of AC, 8 weeks of taxol), then 6 1/2 weeks of radiation. Treated at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital in Boston (except for daily radiation). Tolerated chemo very well except that I developed pulmonary emboli (blood clots in my lung) just before my last chemo treatement. Salpingo-oopherectomy was postponed a few months due to blood clot complications. Pathology showed microscopic amounts of cancer cells in one fallopian tube so followed up with complete hysterectomy which did not show any other signs of cancer. No further treatment for fallopian cancer. Currently taking Arimidex after trying Femara (joint pain was not tolerable).
The hardest part of my journey
Receiving a second cancer diagnosis just at the point at which I felt like I was "getting my life back" from breast cancer treatment was devastating.
If I could do it over again
I would have been tested sooner for BRCA mutation -- I knew for more than a year that other family members had tested positive but was not in a hurry to be tested.
My participation with FORCE
Participation in FORCE has been incredibly helpful in terms of providing information, networking with others, access to experts. I highly recommend the annual conference.
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