OSF:Tell us your personal story
“Shortly after my wife and I celebrated our first anniversary, I found a gumball-sized lump in my right breast. I immediately went to my doctor, who scheduled a mammogram and ultrasound. Next, a biopsy was performed and the results indicated a malignancy. I saw a surgeon who felt I had a non-aggressive Grade 1 tumor and scheduled a lumpectomy for a few weeks later.
My mom and I weren’t confident with that treatment plan. I hadn’t seen an oncologist yet, and the lump had grown and was encompassing my entire breast. I also had a swollen lymph node under my right arm, which wasn’t biopsied.
The following week, we met with an oncologist at a
cancer center and developed a new plan. She ordered imaging of both breasts, genetic testing, a PET and a lymph node biopsy. My diagnosis changed dramatically to Stage III ductal carcinoma with lymph node invasion. The treatment plan called for 20 weeks of chemotherapy to shrink the tumor, followed by a double mastectomy, 25 radiation treatments to ensure any remaining cancer cells were eliminated, hormone therapy until removal of my ovaries, and eventually reconstruction.
The chemotherapy was challenging, but I remained positive. The time flew by because I had so much support from family and friends who joined me for treatments. We referred to it as “our weekly social,” held in what became coined “the chemo lounge.”
The surgery went as planned, and the cancer in one lymph node was destroyed by chemo. The other nodes were found to be cancer-free. After the mastectomy, the breast tissue was sent to pathology and my plastic surgeon put expanders in place to prepare for implants. Most patients leave surgery in a hospital gown; I left dressed in a cow costume with four exposed udders and exclaimed, “Four teats are better than two.”
I felt confident my doctors would take care of chemotherapy, surgery and radiation, but I knew the rest was up to me. I learned to help myself by identifying what I could control. This helped me create a balance during my journey.” Masi shared her words with the Patient Resource
OSF: When/How old were you diagnosed?
A: May 2019/42 years old
OSF: What did your support system look like?
A: It was wonderful, I went to UM Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center and my wife, parents, sister, family, and friends all were amazing!
OSF: Did you lose your hair? How did you manage this?
OSF: What was the biggest obstacle you had to overcome?