Her mother is a two-time survivor of breast cancer and tested positive for the BRCA gene. If this gene is present, there’s a much higher chance of cancer occurring. Due to these family history factors the doctors suggested Mandi have mammograms every six months and be tested for the BRCA gene mutation. Mandi was tested, and the results came back positive – she was a BRCA gene carrier. The medical staff attempted to run breast MRI’s, this being the best way to find cancer, but found Mandi was allergic to the dye needed in this procedure. As a result, the alternative was 3D mammograms. Four tumors were detected in the left breast. The tumors were biopsied and one of them was malignant.
On December 27th, 2017, Mandi was diagnosed after a 3D mammogram spotted an abnormality in the left breast compared to a mammogram taken in July of 2017. The breast cancer diagnosis was Invasive Ductal Carcinoma, Grade 3. Grade 3 is given when the cancer cells are metastasizing out of the originating body part. Additionally, the cancer was estrogen positive and the tumor tested positive for HER2+. This means the cancer is extremely aggressive and resistant to standard chemotherapy.
Following these heartbreaking results, the plan was to get a mastectomy as soon as possible. This left her with the difficult decision of removing only the left breast, where the cancer was found, or to remove both breasts. Because Mandi’s chances of getting cancer in the right breast was 80%, Mandi and her medical team decided the best course of action was to remove both.
Mandi underwent the bilateral mastectomy procedure with reconstruction on January 25th, 2018. The surgery lasted much longer than planned due to some complications. During surgery, the medical team also removed lymph nodes from her left side. Two lymph nodes tested positive for cancer and resultantly they moved forward with removing all eighteen. Following surgery, Mandi stayed in the hospital for two nights due to high levels of pain and discomfort.
As of now, Mandi has breast tissue expanders under her pectoral muscles. These devices were put in during the mastectomy. Her reconstruction surgery will happen a few months after her chemotherapy is complete.
After surgery the doctors examined the cancerous tumors and lymph nodes. The full diagnosis being Stage Two Invasive Ductal Carcinoma Grade 3.
On February 15th, 2018, Mandi had a vascular access port implanted for chemotherapy access. This device is placed under the skin and is connected to a vein. The port allows for medication to be delivered intravenously.
Heartbreakingly, Mandi’s doctors noticed she had significant fluid pockets forming behind the breasts and that her nipples were not healing properly. The doctors concluded the body was rejecting the nipples and correspondingly this forced her into surgery, once again, to remove her nipples on February 23rd, 2018.
Mandi’s chemotherapy treatments begin on March 13th, 2018. She will endure 20 full weeks of chemo, then Herceptin and Perjeta will be administered every 3 weeks for 52 weeks. She will take Taxol every week for 12 weeks along with Adriamycin and Cytoxan (AC) given every other week, for 8 weeks. This plan was decided upon by a board of oncologists, surgeons and radiologists. Given her history, age, being a BRCA gene carrier, testing positive for HER2+ and the cancer being estrogen positive this intense treatment plan is necessary to reduce her chance of any reoccurrence.
With limited insurance coverage, medical bills are piling up due to multiple surgeries and the large number of expensive medicines that’ll be taken for many weeks. Mandi is one hell of a fighter and she will do her part to get through this, but she needs your help to manage the cost. Please join Mandi’s battle and support her by donating to help this wonderful mother, sister, daughter and dear friend.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read about Mandi’s journey! If you cannot donate at this time, please help by sharing this link.
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