WebMD senior writer Miranda Hitti interviewed breast
cancer survivors as part of a series for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The
series, called “Me & the Girls,” explores the personal stories of these
women after they were diagnosed with breast cancer.
Breast cancer survivor Erica Seymore, 34, lives in the Miami area. She never
felt any lumps in her breast. But she noticed a red, itchy mark on her left
breast, and also felt some pain that would come and go in that breast. "It
would be like a pinch and then it wouldn't bother me for a while, and then I'd
get a pinch again," Seymore says. "I just thought something might have bit me
and I was having a reaction to it."
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But the rash didn't go away; it got larger. So Seymore went to her
gynecologist, who sent her to another doctor for a biopsy and MRI. Those tests showed that she had
inflammatory breast cancer, a rare and aggressive type of breast cancer.
Difficult choice: Seymore was diagnosed in February 2009 and is
getting treated at the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University
of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
First, Seymore got chemotherapy to shrink her breast cancer. And she knew
she needed surgery to remove her left breast.
Deciding what to do about her right breast, which did not show signs of
cancer, was hard. Should she keep it because it appeared healthy, or have it
removed as a precaution?
"I was really struggling there, and I had to pray about that," Seymore says.
"It so happened that the week of my surgery, the doctor called me and said,
'You really don't have to do both. You only really need to do one because it's
only in that one.' So it was like the Lord answered my prayers. That's what
helped me make the final decision."
Recovering from mastectomy: "After the
surgery, I was pretty fine, actually," Seymore says. "I wasn't in as much pain
as I thought I was going to be in. I did have some, but it wasn't excruciating
... it hurt to reach for things."
"I didn't use the painkillers because I really don't like to use those
unless it's really, really necessary," Seymore says. "Right now, I'm working on
the exercises to get more movement in my arms and my shoulder."
Seymore will get radiation therapy. "That's the next step," she says. And
she will take the drug Herceptin to keep her breast cancer at bay.
Seymore plans to get her left breast reconstructed later on. "I have to wait
a year, finish off my radiation," she says.
Leaning on faith: "At first, it was kind of a relief to know what the
problem was," Seymore says of her diagnosis. "Not to say that I was overjoyed
or anything with the fact that it
was cancerous. But for me, the only way I have handled it is through my
faith. I've been praying for myself and I've had other people praying for me,
and so I've just been relying on the Lord's strength. It's very helpful."