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 Jenee Bobbora, 39, lives in the Houston area. When
she was 32 years old, Bobbora says she woke up one day with a painfully swollen
left breast. She consulted her gynecologist, thinking it might be because she
had recently started taking birth control pills.
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Bobbora says that doctor dismissed her request to get a referral for a
mammogram, and she was angry about it. So her mother called a friend who had
had breast cancer. That led to an appointment with a breast surgeon who said
Bobbora's swelling was likely caused by an infection.
"He said there is this rare type of cancer called inflammatory breast cancer
that you could have, but it's probably an infection. Go take your antibiotic
and call me in a week," Bobbora says.
But Bobbora noticed her breast symptoms were worsening, not improving, and
her breast was "starting to look a little red." So she called the University of
Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, told them she thought she might have
inflammatory breast cancer, and got her diagnosis.
Bobbora's cancer was in her lymph nodes under her arm and in her collarbone
area, and she had a 4-centimeter tumor and another 2-centimeter tumor in her
"It was truly unbelievable," Bobbora says. "When I was in there and they
were telling me, the news just kept getting worse -- 'You have breast cancer,
and it's this really rare kind, and it's very aggressive.'"
Her treatment: Genetic testing showed that she had a BRCA2 gene
mutation linked to breast cancer; several relatives on her father's side of the
family had the same mutation. So Bobbora had no qualms at all about getting
both breasts surgically removed -- a double mastectomy.
"It was like, here's what you need to do, and I really did not want to die,"
She wanted her breasts removed, including the skin, for fear that her
inflammatory breast cancer might lurk there. "I told my doctor... 'I want the
most aggressive treatment that you have. I told my surgeon, don't be saving the
skin and trying to make my incision pretty. Be done with it. I don't care what
it looks like... I just needed to get rid of my breasts. They were bad
But before her surgery, Bobbora got six months of chemotherapy. And after
her surgery, she got radiation therapy twice daily, and she started taking the
drug tamoxifen to help kill any remaining cancer cells and to prevent cancer's