In 2004, Tina Frey asked her family practice physician to look at a lump she felt in her breast during my annual physical. Her physician told her that at 25 years old, she was going through hormonal changes that would change the density of her breast tissue, but to keep an eye on it.
Over the next two years, I assumed that the spot was documented in my chart and that if anything was strange, he would let me know.
Frey and her husband Nathan moved to Reno, Nevada in 2006. Her family practice physician there agreed with her Wisconsin physician. Soon, she found out that she was pregnant and her obstetrician told her to expect tissue changes as a result of the hormone changes. After she gave birth to her son, Logan, she was told that breastfeeding was causing more hormone changes and more tissue changes.
In 2009, she moved with her husband to Louisville,KY and was was breastfeeding another baby. The fourth doctor in 5 years checked the lump and found no reason to look further. She didn't bring it to her obstetrician's attention when she was first pregnant with Parker, but the lump was always in the back of my mind.
In 2011, she had two children and a growing breast lump. On May 24, her OB conducted a routine annual exam, and asked her if anything was bugging her. She mentioned the lump, but mentioned that several doctors had looked at it, and that , while it was probably nothing, it felt larger to her. She said that it was probably because she was breastfeeding. She agreed, felt the lump, and said that they would do an ultrasound to set her mind at ease.
The ultrasound was performed. Afterward the sonographer went to get the radiologist which was routine. The radiologist came in and scanned her further, and he asked if there was anyone he could call—the lump looked suspicious. When she asked the radiologist exactly how suspicious, he answered, "Very."
He scheduled a biopsy. She was feeling so many emotions that she told the doctor not to call her husband. She said,"Just get it over with," I said. He took 5 viable passes and placed a titanium clip in her right breast for surgical follow up the next week.
The radiologist essentially told her that if the biopsy came back negative for malignancy that they should do another one. Frey explained that with ultrasounds, there are 12 characteristics of malignancy. “If a woman had 1-2 of those characteristics, the mass would be considered malignant until proven otherwise...my mass meets 9 of those 12 characteristics - I guess that's what "very" suspicious looks like,” she said.
On May 27, 2011 Frey was diagnosed with Stage II Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. It was the very spot that she felt in 2004 - the same spot that she pushed and pushed and pushed for someone to feel, to look at, to image.
She said, “I was "too young" to have breast cancer...I was diagnosed at 32 years old, just 4 months after my youngest son was born.”
She blogged through her journey saying that it was a great way for her to control the information that was disseminated so that there was no rumor mill about her ability to cope, or my disease progression, but it ended up being so much more than that. \
“I found that blogging lead me to this amazing sense of discovery--and recovery,” she said
Professionally, she is a Director of Radiology. She worked in a cancer center throughout her treatment. She mentors young women who are diagnosed because she wants to give back. She said that she tries her best to be good to the body she has so she can be here for many moons to come for her two boys. Personally, she is a mother of two beautiful boys (Logan is now four and Parker is now two-years-old.)
“I am a 2-year survivor who loves to meet 20-year survivors. The only risk factor I meet for breast cancer is that I am a woman. I took action, and I am glad every day that I did,” she said.
“I can do all things through God who strengthens me. I am ready to "fight like a girl." I am strong,” she said, “I have an AMAZING support system, near and far. I have never felt so close to my friends and family, even those who are not close in proximity. I have too much to live for to let this beat me.”
Frey said, “This disease will not define me, but motivate me. I am positive -those rose colored glasses will certainly come in handy now. Don't feel sorry for us - we are fortunate to have all that we have - this is just a bump in the road. My two beautiful boys and my rock of a husband are my motivation to beat this thing. LET'S DO THIS!!"