"survivor story" - Melinda Waishwell
Editor's Note: October is breast cancer awareness month, and each Saturday in October, the Daily Post published the story of a local breast cancer survivor, culminating with the "Read Pink" edition on Oct. 27. The feature took readers through the battle in a survivor's own words. -- Compiled by staff writer Tyler Estep
Name: Melinda Waishwell
Occupation: Surgery scheduling at Eastside Medical Center
Date of diagnosis: Dec. 2007
Type of breast cancer: High-grade ductal carcinoma in-situ in left breast; positive estrogen receptors
My diagnosis: My yearly mammogram in Dec. 2007 came back abnormal. The radiologist suggested I have a biopsy done of the suspicious spot in my left breast. The biopsy came back positive for breast cancer 12 days before Christmas. I was in a state of disbelief as breast cancer did not run in my family and I felt that I took good care of myself. Surgery was scheduled for two days later.
My battle: I had a breast lumpectomy and sentinel node dissection. Thankfully the cancer had not spread to my lymph nodes. I was diagnosed with high-grade ductal carcinoma in-situ with estrogen receptors. My surgeon told me that if I was to get breast cancer, this was the best kind because it is very treatable. I went through six weeks of radiation. My oncologist then put me on an estrogen-inhibiting drug called Tamoxifen for the next five years post-surgery. This puts my body into menopause as I stopped producing estrogen. I am praying this December he will say I can complete the five-year regimen of Tamoxifen.
My advice: My cancer was caught early through routine screening. All throughout this process, family, friends and many coworkers whom I call friends have been extremely supportive and encouraging. The team at Eastside Medical Center, the surgeon, the radiologist, oncologist, nurses and techs are caring and nurturing and never made me feel as though I was battling this by myself.
Remember that cancer is temporarily part of you, it does not define who you are. For anyone who is going through this, your faith, strength, healthy lifestyle changes and a positive attitude will help you beat this. I hope one day they find a cure.