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Breast Cancer Patient Shares Her Journey To Help Others

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Breast Cancer Awareness Month is highlighted by painting the town pink. The purpose of this designated time is to help those who are experiencing and experiencing difficult breast cancer journeys. In addition, the goal is to avoid this deadly disease and raise awareness of how to detect it early.

Breast cancer was horrifying for Michelle Behme, 54, in Cheshire, Connecticut. “It’s deformed, burned, beaten, and emotionally exhausted. It’s like cancer,” says Boehme.

Behme has always been enthusiastic about getting regular mammograms and conducting self-examinations. In 2016, there was a suspicious spot on her mammogram and she underwent an ultrasound. After seeing the ultrasound, she was told it was nothing. But later on, she wanted to push the biopsy forward, but she didn’t know it was the next step, so she didn’t ask and accepted their words. For the next four years it wasn’t raised again.

On December 9, 2020, during a self-diagnosis, I found a lump like grapes.

She immediately called her doctor, who saw a specialist. At the end of the trial, doctors thought it was just a cyst and Boehme said coffee consumption should be reduced. However, Boehme knew that he felt it was more than a cyst and asked for ultrasound. As a result of the examination, the radiologist believed that the spot justified the biopsy.

When the biopsy results returned on December 14, 2020, they showed a malignant tumor and doctors suggested mastectomy. She then underwent bilateral breast MRI with and without contrast. As a result, three masses were found on her right breast, one about 10 cm in size.

Behme then decided to move his care to UConn Health. There she meets Dr. Susan Tannbaum, Head of Hematology and Oncology and Clinical Director of the Carole and Ray Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center at UConn Health, and Dr. Christina Stevenson, Associate Professor of Surgery and Director of Breasts at UConn Health. bottom. program.

At UConn Health, Stevenson pointed out that mastectomy of the breast is not the correct course and requires a mastectomy of the right breast. The left breast is currently healthy, but Boehme asked Stevenson to perform a double mastectomy to reduce concerns about future cancers of the left breast. On February 2, 2021, Boehme underwent a double mastectomy and found that the cancer had spread to her lymph nodes. She was diagnosed with invasive lobular carcinoma stage III.

Lobular breast cancer as it migrates from the lobule (which is present in the normal breast for the production of breast cancer) to the surrounding breast tissue is known as invasive lobular cancer (ILC). Stage III cancer means that breast cancer has progressed locally and has spread beyond the immediate vicinity of the tumor to nearby lymph nodes and the chest wall, but not to distant organs. Means

She was grateful that she was able to get rid of the cancer, but it was difficult to recover from surgery because she developed a local infection that required three surgeries.

Due to her degree of illness, she needed to undergo further systemic staging and underwent PET scans and bone biopsies to determine if the cancer had spread further. Thanks to both tests returning to negative, Behme states that waiting for the results made a significant emotional sacrifice to her and her family.

Due to her infection and more surgery, her chemotherapy treatment had to be postponed, she started chemotherapy in April, 4 cycles in June, 2 medications every 3 weeks I used it for a total of 3 months and finished.

Dr. Tanenbaum offered two options and recommended the option of using three drugs (more intensively every 1-2 weeks for 5 months), but chose to use the two drug options. Did. Before making a decision, she weighed the strengths and weaknesses of different treatments, conscious of what she had in her body. This is an example of a patient knowing himself best and making the right decisions for himself in doctor counseling.

Behme used the Dignicap® scalp cooling system, which saves about 70% of the patient’s hair during chemotherapy. She wore a special silicone cap that circulates cold liquid to cool the scalp during chemotherapy. Cold reduces blood flow to the scalp area, reduces the reach of chemotherapeutic agents to hair cells, and slows metabolism within hair cells.

UConn Health’s Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center is Greater Hartford’s only hospital that provides scalp cooling. It is currently offered for breast, lung, and other solid cancers treated with chemotherapy that is known to cause hair loss.

“I had already lost my breasts. I didn’t want to lose my hair,” says Behme, who saved 60% of her thick hair.

Her third chemotherapy broke the chemotherapy line. “Everyone rushed to help. What’s happening in my body because they all come in in hazmat suits and are protected from the chemicals that I had in my body. I understand how toxic it is, “says Behme.

“I respect Dr. Tanenbaum and Dr. Robert Dowset, Head of Radiation Oncology at UConn, for all recommended medications, supplements, and that my body is anxious for food. I did everything I said, including what I did. I wanted an orange, “Behme says. “I didn’t have nausea. I was so blessed that I felt like I treated it like a soldier.”

Radiation therapy was given after the chemotherapy was completed, which took 5 days a week for 5 weeks. The radiation took longer because of her extensive lymph node involvement. Behme considers it to be a job of the era. The first three weeks of radiation were breeze, and the fourth and fifth weeks were nightmares when the radiation began to burn. “After feeling like the worst tan I’ve ever had, I tanned poker over and over again,” says Boehme, who is currently focused on healing her.

Behme is currently undergoing bone-dense anti-estrogen therapy and is examining bone health laboratories for potential side effects of estrogen blockers. Behme and others are as lucky as seen by bone health doctors who monitor and prevent bone loss while taking these medications.

These doctors will review patients with cancer programs and support for side effects that may occur with these commonly used drugs. She was found to have osteopenia in her lower back. The doctor walks her for 30 minutes a day to increase calcium and inject a drug called Reclast once a year to strengthen her bones.

In January 2022, she meets UConn Health’s reconstruction and cosmetologist Dr. Jillian Fortier to begin the process of reconstruction surgery. She was always a D-cup before getting breast cancer, but decided to become a B-cup. Implants have a 50% chance of functioning due to frequent radiation changes in the skin and underlying tissues of the chest wall. If not, she has other options.

Boehme took a picture of herself with a mastectomy and a burn. She thought about it for a few days and decided to let people see what cancer was – scars, burns, pain, scars, and subsequent emotional and psychological distress. She felt she needed to be vulnerable to help someone else, so she posted it on social media. Since then, she has contacted many people and told them that she had a mammogram scheduled.

Whenever she looks at herself in the mirror, there is mental and emotional distress beyond physical distress. Her family, who supported her, also suffered emotionally from this diagnosis. Diagnosed during COVID-19-her husband and 23-year-old daughter had to be involved in the visit remotely. At least they were able to participate in the encounter. Beyond the shock of cancer diagnosis, families of cancer patients are also drawn into the emotional and psychological distress of cancer. The daughter who lost her father had to deal with feelings that her mother could die, and the husband who lost her sister to cancer was afraid to lose her wife.

Like many women, Boehme missed the 2019 and 2020 mammograms for COVID-19. She advocates and encourages others to take regular mammograms and perform self-examinations.

“Although mammograms have proven necessary for screening for early signs of breast cancer, women usually don’t look forward to unpleasant annual visits. You know your body better than anyone else. Follow your instincts, “says Behme.

She also tells other women to acquire knowledge and educate themselves so that they can ask what they think they need. “I was the one who requested ultrasound in that first promise, and I just wonder what would have happened if I hadn’t requested it,” says Behme.

Behme has joined the UConn Survivor Group. The group will start a meeting within a few weeks and continue to fight and advocate for breast cancer awareness. Her message is to be part of the decision for early detection and your own care. Most of your health is up to you.

If you are concerned about your breast health or need a mammogram, please visit: UConnHealth Women’s Health, UConn Health Carole and Ray Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center, Or your schedule Mammogram Please call online or call 860-679-3634.

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