Sometimes the emotional pain outweighs the physical pain for those dealing with an illness or disease.
That was the case for Cresson resident Kylie Myers. At 38, Myers was diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), which is considered to be the earliest form of breast cancer.
Last summer, Myers woke up one morning and found that a discharge was coming from her left nipple.
“It threw me off a little bit,” she said.
The discharge led Myers to make an appointment with her physician.
An ultrasound would later show that she had a clogged milk duct in her left breast. Myers was told that this was normal and that it would go away. She also was advised to apply heat to the area if it felt tender.
“So I did what they had asked, and it did kind of go away, but around Thanksgiving it started discharging again,” Myers said. “This time it looked bloody.”
Myers, the mother of two, admits that she did not see a doctor regularly, so she continued to remain optimistic that the issue would resolve itself.
However, the discharge continued.
It even would stain her bra at times, she said.
In February, Myers visited with her obstetrician-gynecologist and was advised to have another ultrasound and mammogram done.
While waiting at Nason Hospital in Roaring Spring for the results of her ultrasound, the radiologist came in and said to her, “Did they show you where it was?”
“What – is – it. What are we speaking of?” Myers replied.
The radiologist then told her that it looked like early stage breast cancer.
“I was kind of taken back, in complete shock,” Myers said.
Myers hoped that the results were wrong, but a biopsy scheduled that same day revealed that she had DCIS, which is the presence of abnormal cells inside a milk duct in the breast – a noninvasive form of breast cancer.
Soon after receiving the devastating diagnosis, Myers met with Dr. Deborah Sims at the Joyce Murtha Breast Care Center in Johnstown.
“She is very thorough and talked to me in a way that I understood everything,” Myers said. “She likes to use a lot of funny analogies to describe things.”
Sims explained that she had nuclear grade 3 cancer cells, which Sims referred to as the “Charles Manson” of cancer cells because of their unpredictability. These cancer cells also are known to be more prone to return.
Adding to Myers’ troubles was the fact that she was triple negative, which meant no hormone treatment would work to combat the cancer. This resulted in a lumpectomy that took place in March, in which doctors “got what they thought was all of it,” Myers said.
She now was left with the hard decision on how to proceed from there.
Her options: radiation or mastectomy.
“Because it was a triple negative
– because it was a nuclear grade – I kept describing it as the perfect storm that I didn’t want to play roulette with,” Myers said. “I didn’t want to do the radiation and then every year get my checkup and hope that it doesn’t come back.”
Myers worked to educate herself on radiation and mastectomies. She learned that once a breast has received radiation treatments it cannot be radiated again, which meant that if Myers received the radiation treatments and the cancer came back she would have to get the mastectomy done.
Myers ultimately decided to move forward with a bilateral mastectomy.
Myers felt the procedure made the most sense because it eliminated any chance of getting cancer in her right breast. Cosmetically, it would look better, she said.
Myers had the procedure done in June. Five lymph nodes were removed for further testing.
“When they did the mastectomy they did end up finding a little more cancer that was missed in the lumpectomy,” Myers said. “This reassured me that I had made the right choice.”
She recently had her last surgery to reconstruct her breast. While the pain sometimes has been unbearable, Myers said she has tried to find humor in things.
“Anytime I could, I would make jokes about some of this stuff,” Myers said. “I feel like you have to find humor in things just to keep it light, especially with kids in the house.
“You have to laugh at it or you go to a place that you don’t want to go to.”
Keeping her family’s spirits high was very important to Myers. She said
that she wanted to be there for her family they same way they were there for her.
Myers said her husband, Jeremy, went with her to all of her appointments. Her kids were very involved as well, she said.
“We were very open with them,” Myers said about her children.
“We let them be involved in as much as they wanted to throughout the whole thing. It made it a little less scary for them.”
Now healing from her reconstruction surgery, Myers plans to meet with her plastic surgeon again in November. She also has a follow-up appointment scheduled for December at the Joyce Murtha Breast Care Center. A mammogram and ultrasound will more than likely be scheduled in the near future.
“I guess it’s kind of healing up and trying to get back to some sort of normal before everything happened,” Myers said.
Myers said that she is thankful for her family and friends WHO supported her along the way. She’s especially thankful for her father-in-law, who recently was diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus. She said the two of them have been able to share in this journey, which has made her battle with cancer a bit easier.
Myers also is grateful for the encouragement she has received from the Penn Cambria School District. The district has a Pink Panthers Against Breast Cancer organization, which provides support and financial assistance to breast cancer fighters and survivors in the community.
“They’ve been absolutely wonderful,” Myers said.
Myers advises women to keep up with their mammograms and other preventative measures.
“Had I blown this off, who knows where I would be right now,” she said.
“You have to make sure you get checked out, regardless of your age.
“Cancer doesn’t seem to care about age, it doesn’t care about your sex or status,” she said.
“It’s a horrible thing.”
Myers encourages others in the area who have been diagnosed with cancer to reach out to her for support.
She can be reached by contacting The Tribune-Democrat’s newsroom 532-5054.