One evening I leaned over to look at something my husband was reading on his computer. As I touched his back, my left breast felt extremely sore. After doing a self-exam of my breast it appeared red and swollen. The next day I visited my gynecologist who immediately recommended me to a local imaging center for a mammogram. On June 6, 2013 I was diagnosed with Inflammatory Breast Cancer. The imaging center said I had little to no chance of survival. Inflammatory breast cancer is a rare and very aggressive disease with symptoms that include redness, swelling, tenderness and warmth in the breast. Inflammatory breast cancer accounts for 1 to 5 percent of all breast cancers diagnosed in the United States.
My husband sat in the waiting room numb and in disbelief with my diagnosis
My husband sat in the waiting room numb and in disbelief with my diagnosis. I received annual mammograms, exercised, ate healthy and always had a positive attitude about life. I taught nutrition for several years and presently teach courses on Attaining the Mental Edge at a local Pittsburgh college. How could someone who tried to do everything right to prevent breast cancer be diagnosed with this devastating disease?
My tumor started as an eight-by-seven centimeter mass in my left breast. I was shocked. There is no breast cancer in my family history and I was receiving periodic mammograms. However, inflammatory breast cancer progresses rapidly, often in a matter of weeks or months. When you are diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer it’s typically at stage 3 or 4.
Dr. Thomas Julian, a surgical oncologist and breast cancer specialist at Allegheny General Hospital (AGH), part of the Pittsburgh-based Allegheny Health Network, informed me about a clinical trial underway at the hospital of an investigational drug for inflammatory breast cancer, called Neratinib, that targets and blocks proteins that help cancer cells to grow.
Once accepted and enrolled in the clinical trial, the results of the treatment were almost immediate for me
Once accepted and enrolled in the clinical trial, the results of the treatment were almost immediate for me. On July 17, 2013, I was informed the tumor in my breast was nearly gone. After weeks/months of receiving chemotherapy, radiation and having a mastectomy, I was declared cancer free.
I founded the Glock Foundation to raise funds and inform breast cancer patients how significant and possibly lifesaving participating in a clinical trial can be upon their diagnosis. There is more oversight in a clinical trial than the standard care protocol. This process not only saved my life but could save the lives of so many other breast cancer patients.