Survivor Story

“My name is Lisa Cartwright and my story of Breast Cancer may be a little different than the norm. There were no lumps, no indents or pain. My mammogram was negative and suggested I come back in one year.  Sounds great right?  Not quite.

Here is how my story begins. After my OB GYN doctor received my mammogram report, she called to let me know it was negative. I received a follow-up letter shortly after confirming my results.  She suggested that I see Dr. Weintritt because of my family history of breast cancer (sister, mother). I gave it some thought; after all, I had a “negative” mammogram, I felt fine, so why do I need to see a Surgeon?

Reluctantly, I scheduled an appointment and I am so thankful I did!  Dr. Weintritt and his staff were awesome!  He reviewed my family history and told me that I was in the highest risk category of contracting breast cancer in my lifetime.

I knew there was a high risk after my sister was diagnosed ten years prior, but Dr. Weintritt is the only doctor over the years, who told me that I had an option to beat the odds.

He explained that I could have a skin/nipple sparing Prophylactic Mastectomy with reconstruction and that this procedure is an option for high risk women who have not been diagnosed with breast cancer. I was pleasantly surprised!  Dr. Weintritt explained that he would remove the breast tissue and milk ducts and my high risk category would go to a low risk of 1%.  Of course, I agreed to the surgery, because after my mom developed breast cancer in 2009, it has been in the back of my mind that I too could get it, but I tried not to think about it.

While in the office, he proceeded with a breast exam, an ultrasound and gave me a script for an MRI of the breasts.  Dr. Weintritt stated that we do not want any surprises during surgery so let’s make sure that the breasts are actually clear. I had the MRI and it also came back negative.  I was excited that the entire testing (Mammo, MRI, ultrasound, breast exam, Genetic test) came back negative!  This gave Dr. Weintritt and I assurance that we were proactive in preventing breast cancer.  After taking every test that could be done to assure us that the breasts were cancer free, I scheduled a surgery date for April 2010.

As the date approached, I got very nervous and asked myself “what are you doing?”  When my husband and I arrived at the hospital for surgery, he got out of the car and I stayed in!  He asked, what’s wrong and I said “I am having a mastectomy and the tests prove that there is no cancer, why am I doing this today?” My husband responded, “Because you are at high risk of getting cancer and I want to keep you around for a long time.”  I composed myself and we walked into the hospital and I was prepped for surgery.  Dr. Weintritt visited me before they put me to sleep and he assured me that I made the right decision. Dr. Weintritt arranged for my reconstructive surgeon (Dr. Germain) to be on hand to install expanders in the breast after he removed the tissue and milk ducts.

The surgery went great and the scarring was minimal, just a thin line under the breast fold.  I was excited knowing that I decreased my chances of breast cancer.

As I recovered, my next decisions were easy, do I want to be a B or C cup in the next few months when its time to take out the expanders and  install the saline implants. Boy was I wrong!!!!

I received a call from Dr. Weintritt two weeks after surgery and he said that he received the final Pathology report from the surgery. I said “ok” thinking another negative test.

He said that I had Stage 0 In situ cancer in the left breast (milk duct) and Stage 1 in the right breast (milk duct).
“How could this be, all of the test were negative prior to surgery?”

Dr. Weintritt responded, you definitely made the right decision and we caught it in the early stages. He assured me that he would guide me through the next steps.  I hung up the phone and cried.  The tears were of mixed emotions but more so that Dr. Weintritt intervened to reduce my high risk status and we found the cancer before it had a chance to move around.  I cried because if I had listened to my fears or the test reports, we would not have caught it early and I probably would have been told this year 2011 that I have breast cancer and it would have been at a later stage.

Dr. Weintritt was right when he told me that I had a high risk of getting breast cancer. I almost let fear and the facts that there were no signs prevent me from detecting this early.

Ladies and gents, if you are at high risk, please take the preventive measures as I did.

You may detect it even earlier than I and not have to endure radiation.  Also, if you feel a lump, please get it checked right away. I know it is scary, but it will not go away on its own and it could be benign at the time of detection.  If you see a doctor who says that your lump is nothing and you feel deep inside that it is, get another opinion. Also, please remember that Genetic testing is also an option to help with early detection.

Early detection is the best!”