Breast cancer survivor keeps an eye on lump and lives to tell her story

Published: December 16, 2011

Category: Breast Health Center, Cancer Center, Surgery

Jeanie Thomas

I'm 58 years old, and I've had a lump in my breast for many years. Every time I had a mammogram, I'd ask about the lump. They would tell me that it was nothing, but I noticed the lump kept getting bigger.

I had an appointment to go to my primary care doctor in 2010 but my sister was getting married so I cancelled my appointment because I didn't want to miss the wedding. I didn't tell anyone because I was scared and in denial. When I finally got into the doctor's office, they took a mammogram and an ultrasound but it didn't show up. It was the size of a lemon, yet there was no sign of it on the mammogram or the ultrasound. I'm among a small percentage of women whose mass won't show up during screenings.

I had an MRI and followed up with Dr. Laila Samiian at the Shands Jacksonville Breast Health Center. That's when she told me it was cancer. I told her I didn't care what it took or what she had to do, I wanted it gone.

So they did a biopsy right then and there, and the cancer was found in one lymph node at that point. That was at the end of June 2010. Later on, when they did the mastectomy, it was in four lymph nodes. They ended up removing 22 lymph nodes in all.

I started chemotherapy right away and I finished it in November 2010. On Dec. 23, 2010 I had a single mastectomy. In February 2011, I started radiation and in July I had reconstruction. My plastic surgeon Dr. Jaime Ranieri put in an expander to make sure both breasts would match.

Getting through that time was very difficult but Mia Vincent, my breast navigator, was with me every step of the way. She told me she wouldn't let anything happen to me, and she didn't. The team of doctors and nurses that I had were excellent. I knew I was in good hands and was receiving the best care possible.

Jeanie Thomas
Jacksonville, Fla.

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