By Jeannie Blaylock
First Coast News
JACKSONVILLE, FL -- What If You Found a Red Mark On Your Breast? Would you think twice about it? A red mark on your breast?
What if your nipple starting going in instead of out?
Would you call a doctor?
Our Buddy Check story this month will, we hope, make you aware of a rare type of breast cancer, which is nothing to ignore.
Karen Spangler lives on the Westside. She does her self exams with Buddy Check 12.
Good thing because Karen discovered she has a rare form of breast cancer.
It's called Inflammatory Breast Cancer or IBC.
Maybe you saw the buzz on the internet about IBC. There were tons of emails going around warning women about this vicious type of breast cancer.
Karen says she first noticed her nipple was starting to invert. Then she got red marks or rings around her nipple.
Dr. Steven Siegel at St. Vincent's confirms Karen has IBC, a breast cancer in which the cancer cells are identified inside the skin itself. He says Karen's cancer is advanced, a stage IIIb.
Dr. Siegel says St. Vincent's has about 250 breast cancer cases a year. Every two or three years they see a single case of IBC.
So Karen is fighting a battle most breast cancer patients don't face. But Dr. Siegel believes his plan to shrink her tumor with tailored chemotherapy and then do a mastectomy will be effective.
Dr. Siegel says he believes Karen can beat her cancer. He says, "We've had success with people with IBC who had horrendous-looking breasts to start with."
Karen is scared, but she relies on faith. "That's my anchor right there," she says, talking about God.
Her advice to other women? "Well, the Buddy Check exam… you have to do that," Karen says.
So what are the warnings signs for IBC?
One key is looking for something different which doesn't heal. For example, some women think they have a bug bite which just won't go away. Their doctor prescribes an antibiotic, but that doesn't work either.
Another key is looking for a nipple change. In Karen's case, her nipple started going in instead of sticking out. Also, a red flag can be a breast unusually warm to the touch.
IBC isn't typically a lump. Many IBC survivors say they had to badger their doctors until they got a correct diagnosis.
For more information about IBC you can go to this website from the National Cancer Institute:
Meanwhile, make sure you have a free Buddy Check 12 kit. Just call our partner, Baptist Medical Center, at 202-CARE. We mail kits anywhere at no charge. The kits are packed with information and they include reminder stickers for you and a buddy.
Do your self exams and bug your buddy. Call a doctor if you find anything which seems odd.
To reach me just email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
First Coast News