Greetings, my name is Lynn Sistruck and I am a two-time Breast Cancer Survivor. At age 38 I watched a “bump” directly under my collarbone grow for approximately one year until it became the size of a peach pit. There was no pain, no redness and no concern, as I thought it was a cyst.
One day while visiting my father (Mr. Willie Sistruck), he said to me, “Lynn, your money is falling out of your bra.” I said, “Dad I do not have any money in my bra.” The lump was protruding through my blouse! He called my mother (Mrs. Pamela Fewell of Marietta, GA) and she contacted me, stating that I needed to have a mammogram performed ASAP. My immediate thoughts were: No, impossible! The lump is too high and it can’t be! I then made an appointment at Yale-New Haven Hospital to have a mammogram. It was 2007 and I was 39. I received a call informing me that the mammogram revealed I had a tumor that could be malignant, and I needed to follow up with a biopsy. After I received the biopsy results, I was told I had Stage 2 Invasive Adenocarcinoma of the left breast with Her2+ present. I ended up having a left breast lumpectomy, 33 treatments of radiation, and six different chemotherapy drugs. My treatment was the very best of care that I could have ever received; I participated in a clinical trial spearheaded by Dr. Kenneth Miller.
My mother rallied the troops! Although everyone within my immediate family lived in different states, they all were assigned different tasks regarding my at-home care and attendance to all appointments. I had the very best of family support that a woman “going through” could have asked for. My friends were also on board in providing assistance and all the support needed during treatment. This was when I was first introduced to Sisters’ Journey. God’s blessings!
In December 2012 I was watching TV and for no particular reason I felt my left breast and realized there was a small lump the size of a green pea. By this time I had moved to Fayetteville, NC. I called my mother and told her that I was going to schedule an appointment at Duke
University Hospital in Durham, NC. I learned my lesson that early detection is key! I also had learned, with my mother’s help, how to pick the perfect team of doctors by checking their credentials and listening to all the options that provide a positive outcome. This time I had a left
breast mastectomy and was diagnosed with two forms of breast cancer – Ductal Carcinoma In Situ and Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. Following the mastectomy, I also underwent a year of chemotherapy.
In January 2017, I had a left breast reconstruction procedure called Diep Tram Flap, which involved using the fat from my stomach, the skin, and arteries to recreate the breast. My procedure had taken place at Smilow Cancer Hospital by Dr. James Grant Thompson. Unfortunately, during the first 24 hours, my reconstructed breast “failed” and was immediately removed. I am currently still healing from that procedure. And so my journey continues.
Today I am cancer-free and have been since 2014. I encourage all women to not diagnose themselves when finding any abnormality in their bodies. There is no such thing as “I am too young,” or “Breast cancer does not run in my family.” We need to understand that breast cancer
is not an automatic death sentence and when detected early the odds of survival are greater and real!