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William Woodfill - 18 year MBC Survivor

                                                                          By William Woodfill

            At present I am a 70 year old male, in reasonably good health and have survived breast cancer, which I discovered at age 52. My normal activity is to shower in the morning without using a washcloth. So one morning in the summer of 1992 I felt something that didn't seem normal under the skin near my left nipple that felt like a small pebble about the size of a frozen pea. So, I sort of checked it each morning thereafter and in about three or four weeks it seemed to have grown larger, to maybe the size of a lima bean. I had an other reason to see my family doctor shortly thereafter and after diagnosing me as having a sinus infection and having prescribed an antibiotic for that I asked him to take a look at "the lump". He felt it and sort of estimated it's size with a ruler and immediately scheduled me in to see the surgeon in the clinic.
            I then saw the surgeon who attempted to get something to biopsy with a syringe with no success so he said that he would remove the lump as an outpatient in the local hospital the next day. He felt the growth after removing it and said that it probably was not cancer but he would know when I came back in to get the stitches removed in about two weeks. Well I was in for the shock of my life when he said the lump was cancer. I said you probably have to cut a lot more out right away and he said yes and, in simple terms, basically explained how he would do a modified radical mastectomy.

 He did the surgery a few days later which went OK as far as I was concerned. He said that because there was no cancer in the lymph nodes that treatment would be a daily Tamoxifin pill of 10 mg with no chemo or radiation. This sounded pretty good for me because, in a month it would be deer season and here in Wisconsin and I wanted to be ready for the start of bow season. In a week I went back to work as a product manager at the local company where I was employed. And, I rigged a simple rope and pulley arrangement in my office so that I could immediately start stretching the surgical area. I did the exercise every chance that I could during the work day and the same at home evenings. Six weeks later I was able to pull my bow normally.


For about a year, I did have some pain in the left arm now and then, but nothing that interfered with my activities. I saw my surgeon every two months for the first six months and then we upped it to every three, then every four, then every six and now it is once a year. But as I said to my surgeon, I would probably be the one who would feel something if anything did pop up again as I felt all over very carefully in each morning's shower from then on. So, here I am about 18 years later and still no relapse. I think I was just lucky to feel it at such an early stage and had the proper things done and had more good luck in the type of cancer it was so I was able to avoid any further treatment. The moral to the story is: early detection and treatment and your survival chances get pretty good.


William Woodfill
Breast Cancer Survivor
April 2010

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