Susan Cerutti-Jensen: A local woman's battle with breast cancerPosted: Updated:
Name: Susan Cerutti-Jensen
Age: 36 years old
Personal: I have been married for 13 years to my husband-Rick Jensen. I worked 13 years in the financial industry prior to my diagnoses.
I'm 36 years old and was diagnosed with HER 2 Positive breast cancer two days before Christmas. I can tell you exactly where I was when I was diagnosed. It was a Friday and I was scurrying around the house trying to get those last minute holiday tasks done when the phone rang. I was home alone in my kitchen. You see, we never anticipated that the news would come back cancer. Just typing the word "cancer" is still a bit difficult. Breast cancer doesn't run in my family. It's now a part of my life-yet it doesn't begin to define me. I will one day be a breast cancer survivor. Cancer survivor sounds much better.
I can still remember saying to my Mom, "...but I'm not done with my Christmas to-do list...." She retorted something to the effect of "...that's not what's important right now." I'm a planner and being diagnosed with cancer was certainly not part of my plan.
My story starts in June. I went in for my annual exam when my doctor found a lump in my breast. I could tell she found something because when she put pressure on it, I too could feel it. She assured me that it was nothing to worry about and that it was probably just a cyst. (The lump was a couple of inches in size.) I'd been seeing her for several years so I trusted her and took her advice. Looking back, I can't believe I did and I learned a valuable lesson-trust your instincts and take charge of your own health care.
Fortunately, a few days later my husband discovered the lump and asked me about it. A chill went up my spine. I told him about my visit to my doctor and what the doctor had said. He didn't feel good about the advice that was given to me and asked that I talk to my Mom about it. In doing so, she insisted that I call my doctor back and insist they order a mammogram. After receiving several nudges from my family, I called my doctor and asked for a mammogram. (I didn't want to sound like a hypochondriac.)
I went in and Inland Imaging conducted both a mammogram and an ultrasound. The nurse called back and said that I should have a biopsy just to be sure the lump wasn't anything significant. I was scared. Finally I got the call and the results were devastating. For days I remember thinking, "How could I have breast cancer?" I'm an outgoing person with a full life. I didn't have time to battle cancer!
Since then, my doctor (surgeon) performed two lumpectomies, a mastectomy, and lymph node removal. (The cancer had spread to the lymph nodes-fortunately only one of them.) The pathologist that reviews the tumor from the lumpectomy gives the cancer a rating on a scale of either 1-3 or 0-9 to determine how aggressive the cancer is (the higher number being more aggressive). In my case, I'm a grade 3 (on the 1-3 scale) and a grade 8 (on the 0-9) scale.
I received 16 rounds of chemotherapy and lost my hair. I'll be on a drug called Herceptin (for HER 2 Positive patients) through April, 2007. The drug is also administered through my port.
On November 1st, I will have my reconstruction surgery!! Since being diagnosed, I've walked in three Race for the Cures, three Relay for Life Races, and my Race for the Cure team raised $14,000 for the Susan G. Komen Foundation.
I know I will survive. I know I will thrive....I'm thriving right now. I'm surrounded by wonderful people and I've chosen to let them in on this journey that I'm on rather that remain private about it. As a young woman with breast cancer, I can share my experiences in the hopes that we'll all learn from it.
More information about breast cancer at: http://www.youngsurvival.org/young-women-and-bc/