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Topic: How common is a 2nd cancer in other breast?

Forum: Second or Third Breast Cancer — For those confronting a new primary diagnosis or undergoing treatment.

Posted on: Jan 7, 2011 02:46PM

sflow wrote:

Just when I was starting to feel good about being 4 yrs and 2 months out of Stage I IDC, I talked to someone last night that said, usually if you have BC in one breast, you get it eventually in the other.  This woman had early stage at 47 in right breast and in left breast at 54--does anyone know the statistics on this?

Dx 11/15/2006, IDC, Right, <1cm, Stage IA, Grade 3, 0/4 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- (IHC)
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Jan 8, 2011 05:37PM Beesie wrote:

What my oncologist told me is that once we are diagnosed one time, our risk to be diagnosed again (either the same breast or the opposite breast) goes up.  He said that generally, the risk level is about double that of the average woman of the same age. I was 49 when I was diagnosed; the average 49 year has a remaining lifetime risk of 11% (to age 90).  So he estimated my risk to be 22%.  That's considered "high risk" but it also means that there's a 78% chance that I won't get BC again.  And as each year goes by, because there are fewer years left till I'm 90, my lifetime risk goes down.  I was diagnosed 5 years ago and have not had a new diagnosis. My lifetime risk now is about 20% (which is double the risk of the average 54 year old).

Of course, if someone has other major risk factors, their risk might be higher.  Or if they have no other risk factors, their risk might be lower.  In my case, I do have some family history and that was factored in.  

So, all in all, while we are higher risk than average to be diagnosed again, most of us will not get a 2nd diagnosis.  It's definitely not fair to say that anyone diagnosed one time will eventually get BC again in the other breast.  

“No power so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear.” Edmund Burke
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Jan 9, 2011 03:31PM kira1234 wrote:

Beesie, I thought ILC was more likely to go to the other breast than IDC. So my question is what is the risk for someone who has had ILC?

Dx 6/2010, ILC, Left, <1cm, Stage IA, Grade 1, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 7/8/2010 Lumpectomy: Left; Lymph node removal: Left, Right, Sentinel Radiation Therapy 8/3/2010 Hormonal Therapy 10/5/2010 Aromasin (exemestane) Dx 2/2017, ILC, Left, <1cm, Stage IA, Grade 1, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2- Surgery Lymph node removal: Sentinel; Mastectomy: Left, Right Hormonal Therapy Arimidex (anastrozole)
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Jan 9, 2011 05:50PM Beesie wrote:

kira, unfortunately I don't know the answer to your question.  I had IDC so what I discussed with my oncologist, and what I've researched myself, relates to IDC.  Good question though!
“No power so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear.” Edmund Burke
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Jan 9, 2011 08:23PM Letlet wrote:

As soon as I found out I had IDC and needed a mastectomy, I told my BS that I wanted them both out. He told me that the rate of recurrence in the other breast was 5%. That really gave me pause. I had 3 weeks to make a decision and decided to go with a unilateral instead. I don't regret my decision right now and I hope that I never will. I did read some article that indicated contralateral BC and ILC are sometimes related.

Dx 8/27/2010, IDC, 3cm, Stage IIIA, Grade 3, 6/23 nodes, ER-/PR+, HER2+
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Jan 10, 2011 08:32AM KitCat1 wrote:

It is a pondering, questionable topic. I too had a unilateral but am now considering having the other one done and breast reconstruction. My doc said the same as your Letlet. We have a simular diagnosis. i'm not sure waht to do..I have  met people who have had it come bcak in other breast and wish they did the surgery. i've never met anyone who regretted it. I know i went for my mammo last month and the stress and anxiety of it all.....make me want to do the surgery..... not sure what to do. Of course like all of us we want to do anythng and everything we can. Big decisions?????? Having to go through all the surgery.. reconstruction long surgery...but then i dont want to go through this again.... who does? It's a personal decision, we all have to feel comfortable with our own decisons. I have met people who have done the DIEP surgery that are thrilled with the results and say its worth it. Not sure. i', meeting with plastic surgeon and breast surgeon next month to discuss this issue.

Hugs to you all XOXO

Dx 4/20/2010, IDC, 3cm, Stage IIB, Grade 2, 1/16 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2+
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Jan 17, 2011 06:12PM - edited Jan 17, 2011 06:17PM by Ellzig

Hi... I'm not sure I'm on the right forum. I was dx in July of 2008 with IDC. Never showed up on mammo or ultrasound had biopsy by surgeon. I had Mastectomy in Aug 2008, Stage II 1 lymph node involved, er+ pr+ her2-. Dose dense ACT finished that in Jan '09. My problem is I had a breast lift on the right "good" breast, silicone implant for mastectomy on left. Two years out almost to the day my gyn finds a lump under the areola of my right breast at 12:00 position. Same place as the other one was ironically. I guess I just make stuff there. Anyway, had mammo and ultrasound and like before, they couldn't see anything. I already have an appt with surgeon on Jan. 19th to do a look-see and biopsy. I'm not walking around with an undiagnosed lump. I guess my question is:

What do you do with dense breasts that now have scar tissue all over the place? (which this might be).

Any suggestions about screening? Thank you for any replies I'm confused.


Dx 8/2/2008, IDC, 1cm, Stage IIA, Grade 2, 1/15 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jan 17, 2011 09:45PM Paula66 wrote:

Hi girls!  My sister had found a lump in her breast and had her breast removed.  A few years later she found a lump in her other breast and had it removes also.  That was 10 years ago.  Well lets fast forward these 10 years to my story.  Last March they found a very small calcium deposit in my right breast.  I really felt blessed because I didnt lose anything and lfe as I knew could go on.  Well fast forward to Oct of this year I found a lump in the other breast.  This time I wasnt as lucky for it was larger this time.  I decided to g ahead and have them both removed because I fill that I was walking around with ticking time bombs on my chest.  I also had done BRCA testing and it was positive.  I know that its not a garentee that I will always get cancer, but I felt since I had this info available it helped me make an imformed choice. 

Fight Like a Girl!!! Dx 10/24/2010, IDC, 2cm, Stage II, Grade 3, 2/3 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2-
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Jan 17, 2011 10:17PM DesignerMom wrote:

Ellzig-  My cancer was also not visualized on mammo (14 in 14 years).  My BS told me that as I was "mammogram occult" ....didn't even know that was a term, we will be doing a mammo with ultrasound every 6 months alternating with an MRI the other 6 month.  I believe there is a thread here for dense breasts, also a site that makes recommendations.  I can't quite remember, but I think if you google "are you dense" you can find it.  MRI seems to be the best test and it doesn't expose us to more radiation.  Good luck.

Lump & SNB 4/22/10, AND 5/13/10, chemo, rads
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Jan 17, 2011 10:55PM nikola wrote:

Once I was diagnosed with BC I decided to do double mastectomy. Pathology report stated I had three cancers in my right breast (mammo was normal) and my left breast was mess. I am wondering if I had only mastectomy on my right one what would happen in 5,6 years with my left one. Also, if I decided to do lumpectomy would they see other two? It s scary. Lump that I discovered was palpable only in certain positions and I was sent for U/S just because I was persistent in asking for one (I had a gut felling something was wrong).

Dx 3/30/2010, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 2, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jan 21, 2011 05:56PM plockh wrote:

Hello all you brave 'thrivers':

My daughter at age 40, initial baseline mammo, was diagnosed with DCIS stage I, slightly invasive and had a lumpectomy with follow-up radiation. SNB negative.

This fall, 3 years later, she is diagnosed with a 7mm ca in her other breast and underwent lumpectomy and SNB which was negative on 8 nodes removed. The pathology showed clear margins, but just not enough of a margin on 1 edge, so she went back for further tissue removal. We thought this was just lab protocol and weren't worried. But today, her surgeon told her they found multiple foci in that scoop and she will need a mastectomy. She is processing but devestated. Her first dcis was inconclusive for ER, so no tamofixen, the last was positive. She is bright, positive in thought and examining reconstruction alternatives...but is also wondering whether she should consider a bilateral mastectomy to prevent a recurrance in her first breast ca site. She is a warrior and has walked 26 mi in 3 cities. I am a retired RN, and worked in oncology for 5 years where most of our patients were breast ca patients on adjuvant therapies. Please help me give her advise, a thoughtful, researched prospective. She will make a decision in 2 weeks.



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Jan 24, 2011 11:54PM Hindsfeet wrote:

to add...a few years back, I had a lumpectomy in the right breast. Actually, I had two lumpectomies in the same breast. When recently dx again, I was surprised it was in the left breast, with different types...low grade, where the other cancers were high grade. So no...mine did not move from one breast to the other. They were different cancers. But, I do believe the new cancer recently dx with was there when my first cancer (high grade dcis) was found. It just took a longer time to show up.

Dx 6/13/2014, IDC, 1cm, Stage IV, Grade 3, mets, ER+/PR+, HER2+
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Feb 12, 2011 08:11PM dogsandjogs wrote:

I don't know the statistics, but I had an Invasive Ductal Carcinoma twenty eight years ago and had a mastectomy and reconstruction. Lumpectomies were new at the time and I thought it was too risky. I found the lump myself despite getting annual mammograms.

 I continued to get annual mammograms which were all normal until I discovered a lump in the other breast. The doctor told me this is a new cancer and has nothing to do with the other one.

I have lost all faith in mammograms!

 I had a lumpectomy this last Tuesday and am awaiting the sentinel node result.

Still in a state of shock that a second cancer would show up after all this time---

Dx 11/1982, IDC, <1cm, Stage I, Grade 2, 0/17 nodes Surgery 11/17/1982 Lymph node removal: Right; Mastectomy: Right; Reconstruction (right): Nipple reconstruction Dx 11/15/2010, IDC, <1cm, Stage I, Grade 2, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+ Surgery 2/11/2011 Lumpectomy: Left; Lymph node removal: Left, Sentinel
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Feb 13, 2011 10:51AM Katey wrote:

srb, I am so sorry to hear this.  I had a new cancer after 20 years in other breast also.  It is shocking and upsetting to go thru this again.  I am feeling very good now, and you will get there. Hoping that your nodes are all clear. 

I had mx with reconstruction the first time. With this new dx, at first I wished I had a bmx the first time around, but now am good with my decision that I didn't even tho I had to go thru this surgery again.

I'm a little late responding to above, Patti, hope your daughter is okay, and best to you Eve.

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Feb 15, 2011 11:25AM jorja61952 wrote:

Hi Katey and srb.  Oh how I hear you!  My second cancer just diagnosed showed up 11 years after my first dx.  I was feeling like bc was in the past.  Even started to wonder if the whole thing was a mistake.  I was considering doing a bmx the first time around and sure wish I did.  But there's no going back now.  I didn't mind doing the surgery so much.  It's the chemo I don't want to have to do.  I KNOW it's doable as many have said.  Just don't want to do it.  :) I'm still waiting on the oncotype results.

 First time around I was blissfully naive.  Second time not so much.  And even though my dx isn't as bad as it COULD be, it's plenty bad enough for me.  And I'm not taking it real well -- yet.  I guess I need time to process.

Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. (Christopher Robin to Pooh) - jorja Dx 1/27/2011, IDC, <1cm, Grade 3, 0/2 nodes
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Feb 15, 2011 12:05PM LtotheK wrote:

I have heard the risk to be 1% cumulatively.  That is, 10% at 10 years, and so forth.  It is my experience that most women seem to go through this more than once, but I also realize you just can't live life that way, so I am pushing ahead doing the best I can and being vigilant with screening. Which is a whole other issue up for discussion, currently considering moving hospitals as I had to fight way too hard for an MRI.  They don't even do ultrasound with their mammograms.

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Feb 15, 2011 07:31PM jorja61952 wrote:

MHP you are so right to pursue that MRI! That's how they found mine so early. After the MRI lit uP it STILL wasn't detected by mammo OR ultrasound. I think the MRI saved my life.

Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. (Christopher Robin to Pooh) - jorja Dx 1/27/2011, IDC, <1cm, Grade 3, 0/2 nodes
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Feb 16, 2011 08:43AM - edited Feb 18, 2011 06:02PM by Katey

jorja, I'm so sorry that you are going through this.  So good that you had an mri.  First time around I felt my lump yet it didn't show up on mamogram or ultrasound.  This time a digital mamo found it, I never had an mri of breast. 

My onc always told me with each year I became closer and closer to the general population for chances of having a new bc.  Guess that chance does increase with age.  It's an awful shock jorja, one thing that will help you is posting on various threads on this site, there are so many wonderful women here to help you through this.

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Feb 18, 2011 10:52AM ritaz wrote:

My first diagnosis was in Nov 09, calcs in right breast, IDC, ER+, nothing in the nodes, localized radiation, taking Arimidex since Jan 10.  I went for a mammo a few weeks ago and found new calcs in my left breast, Had a stereo on Monday and got a call this morning from the surgeon and I have DCIS and a whole different type of ca - PR-...Will meet with her later today for whole diag but I'm rather surprised that I could get br ca so quickly again...Not so terrified this time - at least I know what to expect...still sucks...Don't want to do the mastectomy thing...If there's a third time - we'll see...

I wonder what statistic I fall into??? 

First Diagnosis: 11/12/2009, IDC, 1cm, Stage Ia, Grade 1, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- I think my guardian angel went out for a smoke. Dx 2/18/2011, DCIS, Left, 1cm, Stage 0, Grade 3, 0/0 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2+
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Feb 18, 2011 11:20AM lago wrote:

I actually had LCIS (precancer) in the other breast. Both my BS and I thought it best to remove both because of that small amount of LCIS. The other breast was going anyway due to the size of the tumor.

DONE!! • Tattoos 2.7.2012 • Nipples 10.6.2011 • Exchange 6.24.2011 • Chemo 1.18. 2011 • BMX 8.31.2010 Dx 7/13/2010, IDC, 5cm, Stage IIB, Grade 3, 0/14 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+
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Feb 18, 2011 02:16PM Ang7 wrote:


I love your tagline...

Wonder if they make bumper stickers like that?

Very pleased Penguin Cold Cap user Dx 5/25/2009, IDC, 2cm, Stage IIA, Grade 2, 1/4 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2+
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Feb 18, 2011 03:19PM VickiSam wrote:

okay .. from experience .. My sister in law .. had IBC cancer in her right breast, 5 years plus 3 days exactly .. breast cancer app reared in her remaining breast

My co worker .. same situation ---.. breast cancer in 1 breast - lumpectomy performed, 4 years and 2 months later, breast cancer returned in opposite breast.

High odds.. in my humble opinion.

Vicki Sam

Dx 8/14/2009, DCIS, 6cm+, Stage I, Grade 1, 0/3 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2+
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Feb 18, 2011 03:46PM - edited Feb 18, 2011 03:48PM by nwest125

I had IDC and ILC in the same breast . Since I had 2 cancers in the same breast my BS said I would have to have a mastectomy , so I decided to have a double so I would not have to worry anymore. My BS said alot of times if you have ILC in one side it can go into the other breast. I am 2 months out of my last surgery and I am feeling great. I had no reconstruction and I am ok with being flat. Oh and my second cancer ILC didnt show up on my mammagram or MRI. Dr. caught it while going in for Clear margins after my first surgery.

IDC 11-1-10 Lumpectomy 11-15-10 reincision/ found ILC 12-16-10 BMX with no reconstrution Dx 9/21/2010, ILC/IDC, Right, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 2, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Feb 18, 2011 05:05PM LtotheK wrote:

I just talked to my radiology oncologist.  He actually feels it's low risk for a secondary primary.  I threw out my numbers (10% at 10 years, etc) and he replied that everyone's risk goes up by about half that as we age.  So, depends on how you look at it.  There are also plenty of stories of folks who are 20+ year survivors.  And I think it's also important to remember, even though I have an awfully hard time doing it, that people come to online communities with illness.  People who go on with their lives don't check in as much.  So the numbers here are probably very skewed by personal experience.

I think it's important to put some positive energy out there based on what my onc had to say.

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Feb 18, 2011 06:54PM VJSL8 wrote:

I've had BC twice in the same breast--once at age 32 and again at 55. I was told by the BC surgeon at UCLA that I had about a 1 in 5 chance of getting it in the other side within 20 years. I just didn't want to deal with it a 3rd time, so I had a BX.

VJ Sleight, 1st diagnosis: 1987, stage 2, ER+, 0/18 nodes, lympectomy, radiation and chemo. cancer free for 22 years, 10 months and 27 days. Dx 8/2/2010, IDC, 2cm, Stage II, Grade 3, 0/0 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2-
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Feb 21, 2011 10:21AM - edited Feb 21, 2011 10:29AM by jorja61952

Katy, I just saw your reply.  I can't figure out how to keep track of where I post so I can look to see if anyone replies so I sometimes miss when someone addresses me.  thank you so much!  the ones I HAVE been able to follow up on, no one seems to be responding and I have started to feel a bit lonely with all this. 

I really thought it all was no big deal when they found that teeny bit of dcis and then it turned out to be a teeny IDC tumor and that still didn't bother me right away.  Now they have that Oncotype test so I am waiting to see if I have to do chemo again, even though 10 years ago they would have sent me on my merry way with tamoxifen.  It is consuming me.  Maybe I'll feel better after I know what I am going to face, but right now it's really getting me down.

I am off from work today and still in my pjs at 11:30 am.  Can't seem to get any motivation.  Second time around really hits you like a ton of bricks.  I know you've been there and can relate so thanks for reaching out!

best regards,


Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. (Christopher Robin to Pooh) - jorja Dx 1/27/2011, IDC, <1cm, Grade 3, 0/2 nodes
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Feb 21, 2011 03:36PM Katey wrote:

Georgia, This is a good day to stay in you pj's, can't believe we had snow again! Hoping you don't have to do chemo again.

If you click on favorite topic on top right of this page or any threads that you like, it will save it to your home page, then you can look at favorites and see if anyone has posted.  It's easy enough to remove as a favorite, it also seems that you can save a lot. 

Ritaz, I'm sorry about your new dx. 

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Feb 21, 2011 04:01PM - edited Feb 21, 2011 06:15PM by bdavis

This thread makes me pause... Its a huge question and one we ALL ask ourselves.

I have been toying witht he question of Prophylactic BMX... because I just can't do this again... Both my BS and ONc say I am good to go with the plan Ithey have made for me, but the plan includes 6 month follow up forever... and there are no guarantees there. 12 years ago I was diagnosed with ADH and told to be diligent and have yearly mammos and 6 years of meeting with the BS... and here I am 12 years later in chemo...

Terrified of being here again in a few years, or worse,... And I feel fortunate that I am only stage II with microscopic node involvement...  I would hate to make the wrong choice and be told in 5 years its returned and is a higher stage. Can one really live like that?? In fearof recurrance?? My onc says with the cancer and history of ADH, risk of cancer again is 30%. I prefer the 1-2% which would be my odds if I have PBMX.

Betsy... 1.9cm tumor, micromet in SN, ER/PR+ 98% .. Had my BMX and Reconstruction in NOLA Dx 11/12/2010, IDC, 1cm, Stage IIA, Grade 2, 1/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Feb 21, 2011 06:03PM - edited Feb 21, 2011 06:03PM by kathy1925

I was diagnosed with DCIS grade 3 in my right breast in April. A pre-surgical bilateral MRI showed a very small growth in my left breast (which was not picked up by digital mammography or ultrasound). When I had my right breast lumpectomy, the surgeon did an excisional biopsy on my left breast. It turned out to be IDC, grade 1, 4mm. Another lumpectomy was recommended, but I wanted a bilateral mastectomy at that point. I had the bmx, and sentinel nodes taken from both sides in May. The sentinel nodes were clear, no further cancer was found (the lumpectomy and excisional biopsy had removed it all). However, there was ADH and ALH in both breasts. The surgeon said "you made the right decision".  I was fortunate.

Kathy, DCIS grade 3, IDC Stage 1, Grade 1; BMX 5/24/10, no recon, oncotype 9, no radiation/no chemo, arimidex Dx 4/2010, IDC, <1cm, Stage IA, Grade 1, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Feb 21, 2011 06:15PM jorja61952 wrote:

Katey yes that was my excuse--the snow.

. I DID get to rent a nice documentary on io about--wait for it--breast cancer. I am so consumed right now. :). It was called 1 a Minute. It was made by a bc survivor and included interviews with Olivia newton John, Melissa etheridge and many others. Had a good cry, got inspired and felt less alone. Speaking of snow, you're not from nj are you?

Bdavis, one thing I failed to mention is that even tho I came up BRAC neg, my doc thinks it's genetic since my mom, aunt,and daughter had it. Just not BRAC. so my risk is most likely higher than yours.
Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. (Christopher Robin to Pooh) - jorja Dx 1/27/2011, IDC, <1cm, Grade 3, 0/2 nodes
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Feb 21, 2011 06:18PM jorja61952 wrote:

Kathy isn't it great to know u made the right decision? Kind of a consolation for them finding more than just dcis. But they found it so nice and early!

Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. (Christopher Robin to Pooh) - jorja Dx 1/27/2011, IDC, <1cm, Grade 3, 0/2 nodes

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