We continue our breast cancer awareness series with the story of a young mother who found her cancer while breastfeeding her son.
“I remember sitting there in shock, I knew I was going to do this,” Rebecca Schultz, Guthrie breast cancer patient.
Emotions come flooding back as Schultz recalls the moment she found out she had breast cancer. Her diagnosis coming just months after Schultz had learned she was pregnant with her second child.
“I got the phone call that I had a malignant tumor and needed to have further testing to make sure there weren’t any other areas, so from there, my journey basically began,” said Schultz.
Schultz’s doctors at Guthrie was able to access additional knowledge, expertise, and resources through the mayo clinic care network.
“Often in this scenario, there are not enough clinical data so there’s a lot of grey areas so relying on the expertise of someone from mayo clinic can only reassure that what we are doing is right by the patient,” dr. Rahul Gosain, Guthrie corning cancer center.
doctors giving Schultz and her unborn son the green light to begin treatment.
“I made the decision to go ahead and start chemo and had to accept the fact that with my son, it was not in my hands, it was a will for him to survive if he was going to survive,” said Schultz.
Schultz, trying to stay strong for her family…remembering she had more than just herself to fight for.
“It’s not as scary as I thought it was going to be. It became a part of life and I just did the best that I could do to keep my body strong, to continue to eat and nourish my body through treatments so that the baby could thrive,” Schultz.
And then, the best gift Schultz and her husband could have asked for, a happy, healthy little boy born on fathers day.
“He’s just a reminder of anything’s possible and just because you are diagnosed with cancer, it doesn’t mean that it’s a death sentence, it’s not, you have to keep living. As long as you keep living, you beat it,” said Schultz
Also, a big part of beating breast cancer, according to doctors, is finding it early.
“When it is found in young patients, it is often aggressive cancer and found at a later stage so again, finding it early is very important. This is also the patient population that is also at a higher risk for reoccurring metastatic breast cancer so the earlier we find, the best cure can be provided upfront and then active surveillance monitoring thereafter is equally important,” said Dr. Rahul Gosain, Guthrie corning cancer center dr
Dr. Gosain adding that 80 percent of women under 40 find their breast cancer on their own, often through self-exam, something r Schultz credits to help save her life.
“The most important thing is to know your body. Do your self-checks every month and it doesn’t matter what age you are…and this doesn’t just go for women…men too because men can get breast cancer as well. Know your body, if you find something and you’re uncomfortable with it, ask. It doesn’t hurt to ask,” said Schultz.
“For all women, we recommend breast awareness so everyone should be smart about what is abnormal and what is normal. Any abnormal feeling, please don’t wait,” said Dr. Samuel Saleeb
Both doctors and patients urging women to be proactive about their health and to know their risk.
“Many women are afraid to talk about cancer. The word itself is scary but this is not a good reason to walk away from this area. We need to talk about it. Every woman I believe needs to quantify her risk for cancer. Colon cancer, breast cancer, cervical cancer,” said Dr. Samuel Saleeb.
“There’s a lot of people out there that are there to support you and get you through it. It’s not the end of your life. I think you learn that seeing someone else who has gone through it and survived it, helps keep your fight going,” said Schultz.