Rosi and Nancy’s Stories
I am starting my story of breast cancer when I got breast implants in 2003.
I was not interested in upsizing my sagging chest. I just wanted a breast lift without all of the cutting and scars.
Against my clear communications, I ended up with big boobs!
My left implant encapsulated and felt extremely uncomfortable. In 2005, my mammogram showed some microcalcification, possibly a sign of abnormal tissue.
Of course the 2006 mammogram was not any better. The radiologist did not feel comfortable doing a needle biopsy. So I decided it was time to get rid of those big implants, get a smaller version and have that suspicious tissue removed and analyzed.
To my disbelief the pathology report stated that I had ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). Of course I did not know anything about it.
My first reaction was tears and thoughts of, “Why me?? I am only 44 years old. I am too young for this.”
All emotions aside, I met with a highly recommended surgical oncologist.
His advice? MASECTOMY!
I was not convinced. Especially after reading over and over how slow growing DCIS is.
The more I researched, the more confident I got in my belief that I would be okay if I handled this differently, looking to nutrition and other less extreme measures to address my cancer. I still remember that doctor’s last words to me: “Do not wait too long.” How long? No more then a month! It sounded like a death sentence.
I immersed myself in books about nutrition and alternative medicine. I even went to an alternative cancer treatment clinic for two weeks. Of course I did not get cured but was positive it helped in many ways and who knows what could have happened if I had stayed longer… At least I did learn a lot and it helped me to find a good path for healthy eating.
I have never stopped being interested in nutrition. My diet now is mostly vegetarian and as organic as I can afford – no processed foods. I do eat fish (not farm raised), organic eggs, a little bit of cheese, my occasional wine and super dark chocolate.
I also started eating fruit like fresh Dragonfruit and Sourpot. Please Google these. They are amazing.
Besides all that, I knew I needed someone to help me keep an eye on this cancer, just in case my changes in diet were not enough.
Truthfully I was not totally sold on the American Medial Association’s methods, nor with alternative medicine. For both sides, this is a big business. How can I tell if they do what is in my best interest?
After asking around, I found out about Dr. Bretz. I liked him from the get go. He agreed with me: Why kill a mouse with a cannon? Let’s save the big weapons and monitor.
And monitor we did, for quite some time. But of course the mammograms looked questionable and the biopsies confirmed: I still had DCIS. So finally I agreed on a lumpectomy in 2011. But I did not agree to radiation or to taking any medication. Call me stubborn, stupid or – strong.
I was left without much worry for two years, but I still had one abnormal looking spot that was close to the nipple and it was sensible to get it out.
To my luck, Dr. Bretz has been talking to a company named ICECURE, which has been developing amazing tumor freezing technology that destroys breast tumors by freezing them into ice balls with liquid nitrogen. I decided I was ready to be one of the first ones to receive that treatment.
Of course it was easier said than done. Since there were some risk factors to consider, the company did not want to take a chance on me. My dear doctor had to plead and convince them that he could do it. And I wholeheartedly believed that he could!
My big day came in spring 2014, at 4 p.m. I had my boyfriend Richard drive me to the office for moral support and asked my daughter to think positive thoughts that day, while she was away at college. Dr.Bretz was doing two treatments before mine, supposedly easier ones which would inform him about whether or not it was safe to go ahead with me.
Finally it was my turn: I was lying on the table talking to the nurse, plus another assistant – both reps from ICECURE were there to guide Dr.Bretz with the procedure – only to be told, due to a shortage of saline, they would not be able to treat me that day.
My disappointment could have filled that room and even the whole building. I could sense this let down feeling was mutual. That is when Dr. Bretz pleaded: “Let me call one more person.” He came back excited: “Okay, I have to go to Rancho Mirage, give me about an hour.“ Boy, I needed something to calm my nerves. Anxiety does not do well with me.
I asked if it be okay to go right across the street, to Lavender Bistro. It was happy hour time and I had a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. I was in a pretty good mood coming back to the office and felt so much more relaxed. It made it easy to just lay there and listen to the three working together.
“Do not look, turn your head, we will numb it.”
“Good, let’s put in the saline… more saline.”
“No, let’s put it in this angle.”
“Yes, you are right on. Time to freeze it.”
“Three minutes, four minutes…” the assistant counted. Man, it was freezing cold. “Five minutes… Let’s thaw it now for five minutes.” And so it went on, two more times of freezing and thawing and making sure there was always enough Saline between my implant and my nipple to ensure they would not be frozen with the tumor.
In my mind I was totally with them, praying it would all go well.
And then it was done. I felt so happy and relieved. Besides the coldness in the breast when they injected the liquid nitrogen, I did not feel any pain.
“This needs celebration. Let’s take Dr. Bretz to dinner across the street,” I suggested to Richard.
Who would have imagined? You just got treated for breast cancer and now you are sitting with your doctor and boyfriend at Lavender Bistro having another nice glass of wine and letting it all sink in. Fully awake, no pain, no scars, your breast still intact and no downtime.
This treatment seems like a miracle, doesn’t it? It is amazing.
Seven month later, I got the official news. The needle biopsy proved to be fat necrosis. No DCIS. It is gone!
I will continue to monitor and live as healthily as possible. I will not take anything for granted.
And just as important: I will always be grateful to my Hero, Dr. Bretz. For his forward-thinking and open mind. I hope he never ceases to help so many women with breast issues, whether benign or malignant.
He is like the Lone Ranger, a picture, you can see hanging on his office wall.
The Lone Ranger:
Always upheld a moral code.
Always respected the rights and beliefs of others.
Never killed anybody and shot only to disarm.
Hi-ho, Dr. Bretz.
And, in my last sentence, I need to acknowledge and thank Joan, Dr. Bretz’ wife, for her warm and kind being – many thanks to you both!