Andrea Reichl: Facing Breast Cancer, Be Your Own Advocate

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By Andrea Reichl
Breast Cancer Survivor in San Antonio

On June 8, 2015 I got the dreaded call that would change my my world as I knew it.

I had only been 38 for one month and cancer never even crossed my mind as a possibility. I previously have had a mammogram and ultrasound annually due to a lump that was being monitored since my early 20s.

Six months after my last mammogram my nipple became red and itchy.

Andrea Reichl san antonio breast cancer survivor
Andrea Reichl

My gynecologist sent me to a breast specialist, who rudely told me it was because I didn’t have babies. It was devastating to hear that because she was unaware that for over 10 years my husband and I tried to have kids, unsuccessfully. She prescribed me a cream that didn’t work.

I decided to go back to my gynecologist as things just didn’t feel right, and I was not up for going back to the breast specialist against. He ordered another mammogram and ultrasound. When I went in for those the nurse seemed alarmed at the look of my nipple.

They ended up doing a biopsy and I was diagnosed with stage 2B DCIS with lymph node involvement. I had a second biopsy by my surgeon to my nipple. That came back pagets, a rare form of breast cancer. I had a double mastectomy, chemo, radiation, implants, explant and DIEP flap reconstruction.

I am still adjusting to what my body is after all the surgeries and treatments. I struggle with connecting to this new body.

Cancer was pretty tough. But my toughest battle was that while I was battling for my life I was unknowingly losing my mother to Alzheimer’s. At the time I just couldn’t process her absence. Since treatment I am processing the loss of my breasts and my mother’s memory.

Cancer has taught me that only you are your best advocate.

When something doesn’t feel right trust that gut feeling. My gut is my guide!

Read more survivor stories and news about breast cancer!

Editor’s Note: This is part of a series of guest blog posts from Breast Friends Forever (BFF) in San Antonio, Texas (64% Latino). BFF is a support group that enables young breast cancer survivors to share stories and experiences, developed by the Institute for Health Promotion Research at UT Health San Antonio (the team behind Salud America!) and Susan G. Komen San Antonio. Email BFF or Visit BFF on Facebook. The main image above and additional images feature Andrea Reichl.

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By The Numbers By The Numbers

28

percent

of Latino kids suffer four or more adverse childhood experiences (ACES).

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