Debbie Comisac, Stage 3a

Debbie: Embracing the New Me After Stage 3A Lobular Breast Cancer

Discovering the Unseen: The Early Signs

My story actually began a few years before my cancer diagnosis. I had felt a thickening on the side of my left breast. I informed my gynecologist of it. He said “oh that’s just fibrous tissue.” My yearly mammograms were always normal but did say I had dense breasts. I lived with this thickening approximately 3 or more years and still my yearly mammogram report congratulated me on having a normal mammogram.

The Turning Point: Diagnosis and Fear

Then in January of 2020, I noticed my left nipple looked like it was pulling to the side and I had dimpling in my skin over that thickness. I was scared. I knew in my heart these are not good signs. After an ultrasound and subsequent biopsy, I was diagnosed with lobular breast cancer.

Navigating the Treatment: Challenges and Choices

I was terrified. Then everything was like a whirlwind. Find an oncologist. Talk to the surgeon. Where should I go? Who can I trust?! I ended up with a great team at Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia. For me, the mastectomy was very traumatizing. I felt so sad for losing the breasts which once nourished my 4 babies. I remember when my husband took the bandages off and I couldn’t feel my breasts, couldn’t feel anything. I was devastated. My tumor, the thickening I reported, that was “nothing” and that didn’t show on the mammogram was actually a 4 x 8 cm tumor. I was diagnosed with stage 3 A invasive lobular cancer with 13 out of 14 positive lymph nodes.

The Aftermath: Recovery and Reflection

I was told this tumor had been growing in me for years. I endured the chemotherapy and 25 rounds of radiation. I tried to keep hopeful through the journey but there were many days I would look in the mirror bald and weakened and just scream and sob “why is this happening to me!!” I did decide to get reconstruction. That came with complications and 2 bouts of being hospitalized for sepsis. I had a successful DIEP flap reconstruction on the right side. It failed on the left, my cancer side, mostly due to radiation damage to my vessels. I then had a successful latissimus flap reconstruction on my left.

Embracing the New Me: A Journey of Self-Acceptance

I’m slowly starting to accept my new look and all my scars and mental traumas I endured over the past 3 years. I’ve had many ups and downs. I still worry about recurrence especially if I get a new ache or pain. I will be on anti-estrogen therapy for a total of 10 years. My muscles hurt and I get discouraged at times. Being in survivorship and cancer recovery is a process. I miss my old life before cancer. I sometimes feel I died the day I was told “you have cancer” for I’m not who I use to be. I will continue the journey trying to love myself and my body for all it’s been through and love the new me with all the challenges cancer recovery presents.

Empowerment Through Shared Stories at Learn Look Locate

At Learn Look Locate, we understand the profound impact of personal cancer journeys like this one. By sharing these authentic stories, we aim to foster a community of support, resilience, and empowerment. Our platform is dedicated to providing essential information on early detection, diagnosis, and the latest treatments. We also highlight personal accounts from formidable survivors, fostering a community of strength and resilience. We invite you to explore our survivor stories, medical advisors, and join our mission to empower individuals throughout their recovery journey and beyond.