I like to call Dr. Christie Brock my “Life Saver,” the physician who surgically removed the cancer from my breast and also quickly treated my post-operative collapsed lung, literally saved my life.
During a weekend getaway in 2015 over the July 4th holiday, while receiving a tight hug from my husband, we noticed a lump on the side of my left breast, almost under my arm. Now, I admit I was not a regular self-breast exam kind of gal, but it was noticeable and now easily felt. It was as if it appeared out of nowhere! We were a bit concerned but didn’t let it ruin our weekend.
That next morning, I called my primary care physician and we scheduled an appointment for July 7th. I went in for an evaluation and after examining the lump, he sent me to the local hospital for a mammogram and ultrasound. He said it was probably nothing to worry about because “I was too young for breast cancer.” This became a common statement spoken by those involved with the diagnostic process. The mammogram and ultrasound tech responded with the same, “I was too young for cancer.” I was then scheduled for a biopsy of the lump but, again, was reminded that “I was too young for breast cancer.” So, we left thinking it certainly was not cancer. It would end up being benign and we would go on with our lives.
On July 17th, we woke up planning the day to celebrate our anniversary, only to receive a call from my primary care doctor stating that the biopsy results were in. He said he needed us to come into the office to discuss. We rushed in only to hear him deliver the devastating news,
“You have cancer.”
I was diagnosed with breast cancer on July 17th, 2015, at the age 33. On July 29th, I had a bi-lateral mastectomy. I was definitely NOT too young for breast cancer.
Genetic counseling interviews began almost immediately regarding my family history and genetic predictors, along with specific lab testing. Tests confirmed that in addition to breast cancer, I carried the BRCA1 gene. BRCA1 positive, by definition, is a test result indicating that you have a mutation in one of the breast cancer genes, BRCA1 or BRCA2 and, therefore, have a much higher risk of developing breast cancer or ovarian cancer compared with someone who does not have the mutation.
Due to the positive BRCA1 test, a few weeks after the radical mastectomy surgery, I began 16 rounds of chemotherapy, with 4 rounds being the “Red Devil,” a very powerful chemotherapy agent. Once chemo concluded in February, I underwent an additional surgery, a complete hysterectomy. In addition, due to the genetic tendencies, my mother and sister were both tested and were also positive for the BRCA1 gene. They each had bi-lateral mastectomies and hysterectomies performed. We were so blessed to have been proactive as after their surgeries, small cancerous cells were found growing in my mom’s breast tissue. Without this proactive mastectomy, my mother would have eventually developed full blown cancer.
A SPECIALITY TEAM OF DOCTORS
Tests would later reveal that I had Triple Negative cancer with a 90% growth rate. We had to find a specialty team of doctors as soon as possible, including a breast surgeon, oncologist, and a plastic surgeon. We knew each day that passed could make such a huge difference with such a rapidly growing form of cancer.
We met with two physicians of each specialty.
I found Dr. Brock with Advanced Surgical Associates online and the reviews were outstanding. When I met Dr. Brock, I knew immediately that she was meant to be my doctor. She had such a calming demeanor and asked ME what I wanted. Every other doctor overloaded me with information that flew right over my head. Dr. Brock laid my options out perfectly, explained them and made me feel like I still had control over my life.
Instead of being told what steps I needed to take, she considered my desires and discussed those options in detail. Dr. Brock let me know that she would work with ANY doctor(s) that I selected.
She provided her advice and opinion but supported me in making a decision most appropriate for me. I chose three specialists to assume my care and we immediately went to battle.
When diagnosed with a disease that consumes your body, you feel helpless. Cancer was then controlling my life. Selecting my doctors and ultimately the medical procedures, treatments, and remedies was finally giving me back some control of my life.
I refer to “we” when I discuss my journey because it always involved a “team.” Several teams, in fact.
Friends, Family, Neighbors, Co-Workers, and sometimes even Helpful Strangers
This team offered support for the emotional aspect of daily living, the reality of the diagnosis, pain from the multiple surgeries and life changing events that were taking place, completely unwelcomed and unannounced, that were turning ALL of our lives upside down.
Dr. Christie Brock and Many Amazing Medical Professionals along the way
This team assisted us through every question, problem, concern, doubt, and symptom. They were also on call 24/7, for both clinical and emotional support. This team kept me focused, reminding me of my strong spirit and to keep pushing when I was out of energy.
My message to all women – of any age – is to perform regular breast exams and obtain mammograms as instructed. Breast cancer is not limited to elderly women. It is not even limited to WOMEN. Men are at risk as well.
I was 33 years old with a type of cancer that could have easily taken my life had it not been appropriately and swiftly diagnosed and treated by my team of physicians.
All of my surgeries are now complete and I’m feeling great! Checkups are more frequent now, as instructed by Dr. Brock. I am back to life as normal, my hair is growing (woohoo), and I’m excited to be completely CANCER FREE!
Thank you to Dr. Brock and the amazing team of medical professionals who have helped me, and to my wonderful family and friends. I am so grateful for all of you!
Dr. Brock graduated from Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in 2007. She completed General Surgery residency in Brooklyn, NY in 2012, followed by a year of Critical Care Fellowship at the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Dr. Brock is Board Certified in General Surgery and Critical Care. She is also a General Surgery Residency and Medical Student Preceptor for KCUMB, a member of the American Society of Breast Surgeons, and has a special interest in Women’s Surgical Care, Trauma and Critical Care. Visit the practice website of Advanced Surgical Associates, www.ASAKC.com, to learn more or call 816.246.0800.
3460 NE Ralph Powell Road
Lee’s Summit, MO 64064