07Oct

Kent VP shares how she overcame breast cancer & the importance of early detection.

Tiffany Blankenship, Vice President of Kent International, is a Breast Cancer Survivor. Here is her story.

sgk-tiffanyI had my baseline mammogram in 2011 as suggested by my OBGYN so I would have something to compare to my mammogram at forty.

I was told everything looked fine aside from having dense breast tissue. I was told there was another test that could be done, however since I wasn’t forty and had no family history, I opted to file the letter away and skip the test.

Then, in 2013, my best friend alerted me to another friend’s Facebook post.  She had been diagnosed with breast cancer. After reading her story, I learned that she too had dense breast tissue and it was the second test that found her cancer.  I reached out to my friend, and she strongly suggested that I have the second test done.  I told her I would to support her, and quickly scheduled an appointment during Thanksgiving week of 2013.  

Monday, November 25th.  I went to my appointment and argued with the sweet nurse that, no, I didn’t need a mammogram just the SonoCine ultrasound.  (For any of us who have had a mammogram you know that you tend to try and avoid them as much as possible.) During the SonoCine, that same sweet nurse who I argued with kept calm as she discovered a spot.  She went for the doctor who came in as I started to cry. He said to me “this is why you are here, we will check this out and everything will be okay”.  After reviewing the SonoCine results, I was sent to have a mammogram.  The lady administrating the mammogram admitted that if she didn’t know the spot was there – she wasn’t sure she would have detected it.  

At this point, it was decided that a biopsy would be needed.  I called my husband who rushed to be by my side.  The biopsy was performed, and all that was left was to wait.

Tuesday, November 26th.  I received the call from my doctor confirming that it was cancer. She told me what the next steps would be and that with the holiday week there might be some delay.  Then it started, one doctor’s appointment after the other.  How could this be? They tested me to see if I carried the gene, I did not. They were surprised that I was the first in my family to have breast cancer. However, there are so many other risk factors that don’t get talked about. Risk factors like: I was over 30 when I had my first child, I didn’t exercise three times a week, I consumed wine/alcohol, all of these that I had no idea increased my risk.  

At the time my boys were 2 and 5.  I wanted to be there for them growing up and would do whatever it took to make it happen.  After meeting with my doctors, I began researching my options. I opted for a bilateral mastectomy, which seemed aggressive given I could have opted for a lumpectomy with radiation. What lead me to this decision were the countless stories I read of women who had a single mastectomy only to later find cancer in the other breast.

There are/can be three surgical stages to breast cancer.  The first is the surgery where they remove your lymph nodes and look to see if the cancer has spread to them.  My surgery was on December 26th, and I was very lucky that there were no cancer cells found in my lymph nodes.  The second surgery is the bilateral mastectomy with the start of reconstruction.  I had that surgery on January 22nd 2014.  It was a long recovery –  six weeks of limited movement of the arms, no showers, no holding and no hugging my sweet little boys. It seemed like a lifetime.  The final surgery was on May 23rd 2014. This was my final reconstruction.

Prior to my final surgery, on February 19th the day before my oldest son turned six, I was told I was cancer free!!  I know how blessed I am to be here today and to be a survivor.  There are women and men every day that lose their battle.  My story could have been very different if I had waited until I was forty, another three years, for my next mammogram – and to put it as simple as I can, I wouldn’t be here to write this story and my sweet boys wouldn’t have their mommy.

Please remember cancer does not discriminate, it doesn’t care if you are male or female, what age you are, what race you are, if you are healthy or not.

TODAY I am officially cancer free for 2 years and 7 months.

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