A Mother and her Two Daughters

15 July 2010

Inflammatory Breast Cancer & Radiation Therapy - The Post Surgery Game Plan

 I haven’t talked much about it since Tuesday, but I received more news.  The post-surgery game plan will be radiation therapy.  Oh well, the journey continues . . .

Inflammatory Breast Cancer has a very high chance of recurrence.   In fact, with the combined efforts of chemotherapy, surgery, radiation therapy and hormonal therapy, these treatments have resulted in approximately 30% of patients surviving more than 5 years without a cancer recurrence.  Not the most promising odds, but I’ve proven to myself that I can beat the odds, and I plan on doing it again. 

I don’t know much about radiation therapy except that it can cure.  And that’s all I need to know right now.  And I certainly know many great people who work at CARTI (Central Arkansas Radiation Therapy Institute) and I’m confident they will care for me well, just as they do all of their patients.  

Today, I’m going to be a broken record about Inflammatory Breast Cancer.  This will be my regular reminder about this nasty cancer that so few women know about, that sneaks up on us with little warning.  Read this, pay attention, cut and paste it and pass along to your mothers, sisters and friends. 

There is more than one kind of breast cancer.
  • You don’t have to have a lump to have breast cancer.  Inflammatory Breast Cancer usually grows in nests or sheets, rather than as a confined, solid tumor and therefore can be diffuse throughout the breast with no palpable mass.
  • Typical symptoms of IBC include breast swelling, itching, warm to the touch, change in color of the breast (pink or red), nipple discharge or retraction, and breast pain (from a constant ache to stabbing pains). 
  • Because the symptoms are similar to mastitis, a breast infection, doctors will oftentimes prescribe antibiotics. If a response to antibiotics is not apparent after a week, a biopsy should be performed.
  • IBC is the most aggressive and accelerating type of breast cancer.  Because it has usually invaded the lymphatic system before diagnosis, IBC is typically diagnosed as Stage III breast cancer.  Unfortunately, it has often also metastasized to other areas, leading to a Stage IV cancer.  (There is no Stage V!). 
  • Because Inflammatory Breast Cancer makes up only 1% of breast cancers, get your annual mammogram.  Mammograms are still a good way to detect the other breast cancers.  But if you experience any of the signs or symptoms listed above, make an appointment with your doctor immediately!
  • Again, you don’t have to have a lump to have breast cancer.


I’ve always heard that what goes around, comes around.  In this instance, thank goodness!  

One of the proudest accomplishments in my public affairs career was the 1997 passage of the Arkansas Breast Cancer Act, which created Arkansas BreastCare.  This is a statewide program that provides much needed funds for low-income women to have mammography services, and diagnostic & treatment services when necessary.  Today over 150,000 free mammograms have been performed with almost 2,000 positive breast cancers diagnosed.  Hopefully most of these women are now survivors.  In addition, it has raised millions of dollars for breast cancer research at UAMS, benefiting breast cancer patients outside of Arkansas too.  UAMS is a premier breast cancer research facility, recognized by the Susan G. Komen Foundation with several national research grants.   

This past December I was proud to chair the committee that sought sponsorships for the annual CARTI Festival of Trees Gala.  Last year's Gala was a beautiful event honoring my dear friend, First Lady Ginger Beebe.  I learned much about the great work of CARTI and the positive outcomes for their patients.  Did you know that CARTI is one of only a handful of non-profit radiation treatment facilities in the nation, providing radiation treatment to all patients referred without regard for their ability to pay?  Unbelievable!  In addition, I was fortunate to work closely with some of their lovely and very competent staff.  Who knew that in the next year I would become a patient?  Lucky for me, I know I’ll be in good hands.  


  1. Hey I knew you well as a baby, child, young lady and a woman. Your were and are beautiful. From the beginning those long, black eyelashes, they will come back, then the long sexy legs. You were never a boob girl, I think because you always had such a big heart, it conflicted with boobs! Seriously, which would you want most, a big
    heart or big boobs? I think you will go back to the beginning and that big heart is the outstanding feature and always will be. Love you. Mom

  2. I love you Mom, more than you can ever know.


Web Statistics