‘It’s just a cyst’ leads to breast cancer in local woman
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
News 25’s Janae Jordan has the story of how a breast self-examination led to the diagnosis of one Gulfport woman, but how a new treatment is giving her freedom to enjoy her life.
Monica Ellis moved from Ecuador to Gulfport about seven years ago and was living the American dream until one day she found a lump in her breast. She went to see a doctor, but the doctor told her it was just a cyst and being that she was only 39 she was too young for a mammogram. “I was just like ‘hey, there is no pain, no redness or anything.’ It was just this is a lump here that was not here one month ago.”
After pressing her doctor, she was able to schedule a mammogram. On December 10th, 2020, Ellis was diagnosed with HER2 positive breast cancer. “In many seconds, your life is turned upside down.”
HER2 positive breast cancer is when cells have to many HER2 receptors which makes them grow and divide faster than other types of cells which causes tumors to form. After educating herself on the type of cancer she was diagnosed with, she was ready to start her treatments. “We decided to have a mastectomy of my left breast. That was on the 22nd of December and after my recovery, I started my chemotherapy.”
Once Ellis started chemo, her hair started to fall out, her skin became so dry, and she felt weak. “I took a shower and I combed my hair and it was just a bunch of hair and I just started crying.”
She went to her doctor to ask about a treatment therapy called phesgo, which allows the targeted therapy to be administered through an injection in the thigh, rather than hours of an IV. “It’s a shot and it is just ten minutes and I don’t have to be in the hospital, I will not have to wait six or seven hours and the next day have to be at home working”
Since taking the shot, Ellis has been able to enjoy her life, her hair is growing back, and she feels healthier. “You have to empower and educate yourself about all the possibilities you have.”