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The torn shoulder that saved my life

  • Published
  • By Donna Green
  • Transportation Command

July 2015 - I woke one morning with left shoulder pain.  It progressively got worse.  My insurance company wouldn’t pay for an MRI until I completed physical therapy.  I did.  Three months later, I was still in pain.  My insurance company finally authorized an MRI to help diagnose my problem.  Turns out I had a torn tendon, but the MRI also revealed an enlarged lymph node.  The doctor called to order follow up tests to figure out why my lymph node was enlarged.  After four weeks, three mammograms, an MRI, and a biopsy, I was diagnosed with stage two breast cancer on Dec. 9, 2015.   I had two lumps and a lymph node that contained the same cancerous cells.

 I had my first mammogram at age 35 as a baseline.  I had my second at age 40.  I scheduled my annual exam every summer, except in 2014 and 2015.  I was touring colleges with my children in the summer of 2014 and was preoccupied with building a house in the summer of 2015.   I allowed my activities to take over and forgot to make my health a priority.  I had no symptoms and the lumps were small enough that my doctor didn’t even feel them during his exam. 

 Nothing is more important that “preventative maintenance.”  I learned that the hard way.  Had I stayed on schedule with my exams, my lumps would probably have been found sooner, and the cancer may not have spread to my lymph node.  Earlier diagnosis probably would have required fewer rounds of chemotherapy and saved me from radiation.  Fortunately, my torn shoulder tendon quite possibly saved my life.

 I am eternally blessed to say that after six rounds of chemo, a double mastectomy, and 33 radiation treatments I AM CANCER FREE.