Two of every three invasive breast cancers are detected in women ages 55 and older, according to the American Cancer Society. Here is the story of a mother and daughter who are beating the odds:
Deetria Horne, 35, performed regular breast self-exams because of her mother's diagnosis of breast cancer in October 2008. When she felt a lump in November 2011, she thought it must be something else.
"I waited until January to have my primary health care provider take a look," says Deetria. "I had a mammogram and ultrasound the same day and went back for several needle biopsies. The follow-up tests confirmed I had stage IIIB cancer."
Deetria had surgery to remove both breasts and 19 of 21 lymph nodes. She was familiar with the process because her mother, Diann Brown, had chosen a bilateral mastectomy for her own stage IIB breast cancer.
Her Mother's Story
In her 20s, Diann, vice president of Health Information Services for Texas Health Resources, found a lump that was fast-growing but benign. When cancer was found in one breast while Diann was in her 50s, she did not want to go through treatment again should additional cancer develop.
"My surgeon told me only 2 percent of women have cancer in the other breast, but I was adamant," says Diann. "After the surgery, tests revealed atypical cells in the other breast, which confirmed I'd made the right decision, estimating I would have had cancer in the other breast within five years."
Diann completed six chemotherapy treatments delivered three weeks apart. Her breast reconstruction surgery was coordinated with her treatment plan to ensure the best results.
"It took about two years to feel like myself again," says Diann. "Treatment for breast cancer was tough, but watching my daughter go through treatment was even tougher."
A Shared Journey
Deetria's treatment began with 16 doses of intravenous chemotherapy administered every two weeks, followed by six weeks of radiation therapy delivered daily. She, too, will have breast reconstruction surgery once her treatment is complete.
"When I was first diagnosed, I was not fearful that I might not survive — having seen my mother's example — but of the journey ahead," says Deetria. "Sharing the experience of breast cancer, we both had to learn to take one day at a time, slow down and let people in to help us get well."
For a wealth of breast cancer resources, including information about screenings and support groups, visit TexasHealth.org/Breast.