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He said, don’t worry, most lumps in girls my age are cysts. I was 18.

Stage 1 Mucinous Carcinoma of the Left breast (Diagnosed – age of 18)

Procedure: Lumpectomy with 6 weeks radiation

1998 had my first breast reconstruction – had my right breast reduced to match the left side.

In December of 1991 (Age 18) I discovered a lump in my left breast just by chance.  It had been a bit tender.  I immediately told my mother.  I knew that both of my grandmothers had breast cancer in the past.  My father’s mother passed away from breast cancer when she was 50 years old back in the mid 1970’s.  I was embarrassed at first but realized quickly how upset my parents would be if I had not said anything.  My mother scheduled an appointment for me to see her doctor and he said that I did not have anything to worry about because most lumps in girls my age are cysts.

I ignored the lump for a few more months and told my mom that I felt as though it would be best to have it looked at again or possibly removed.  I went to another doctor and he suggested a needle aspiration to remove any fluid in the “cyst”.  He was unable to remove any fluid because it was a solid mass.  Another few months went by after that and my parents and I discussed removal of the lump.  It was still tender and had us worried.  In March I went in to have a biopsy.  Maybe a week later I was called back to the doctor’s office and told that much to his surprise I had cancer.  My Mom and Dad and my boyfriend were with me to hear the news.  My doctor was the most supportive and probably the most shocked of all of us.  I went to see several specialists at EMMC and they all concluded that I would benefit the best with a lumpectomy along with 6 weeks of radiation.  I underwent all of this and have made a complete recovery.

I chose to have breast reconstruction in 1998 because I was about to get married and every girl wants to feel perfect on her special day.  I underwent a breast reduction on the right side to be the same as the left side.  I was very happy with this decision until the past few years.  In the meantime, in 2002 I had our daughter and had gained weight and lost weight through all of these years and had become severely different again.  In April of this year I decided to undergo another surgery.  This time I had a breast lift to the right side and fat grafting to the right and am currently pretty happy with the results.  I am in the process of scheduling round two of the fat grafting at the moment.  I know that I will never be perfect because there is no such thing.  I sure am happy to have had the love and support of my wonderful Husband Warren, Daughter Katie, family and friends throughout this ordeal.  I could not have done any of this without their support.  I am very blessed to have had something like this to deal with throughout my life because it has made me the person I am today.  I am more patient, loving, compassionate and enjoy my life to the fullest! I truly thank my doctors (Dr. Charles Hendricks & Dr. Mary Dudzik) who have been with me the entire time and are to this day.

My advice to any young girl is to always listen to yourself and if you think something is not right with your body talk with your parents and do not be embarrassed.  You are stronger than you think you are when you are dealt something you think you cannot handle.  Breast cancer can happen to any girl at any age and please do not let anyone tell you otherwise.  I was 18 and am now 43 years old and without telling my parents that initial day I would not be here today.  I am sure glad I am!!

Leanne Smith

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