My name is Diane Fieger and I am a breast cancer survivor. I was diagnosed in January of 2011.
However, before I tell you my journey, my course of action on how I sailed this horrific ship, I must give you a little background about myself.
My highest accomplishments, through the grace of God, are choosing the most wonderful man to marry, Marcus Fieger and having two terrific boys, Dylan and Daniel.
I have been a radiologic technologist for the past 23 years. My specialty and focus is in mammography. Isn’t that ironic? All these years I have been educating my patients on good breast health care. Get a yearly mammogram, a yearly clinical breast exam, and perform a self breast exam monthly.
Because I followed my own advice, I was able to find my cancer at an early stage. Being a mammographer made it easier for me to make the tough decisions. I always knew what I would do if “it” happened to me.
In October of 2010 I had my yearly mammogram. In January of 2011 (three months later) I found three breast lumps and saw some dimpling of the skin.
All three of these lumps felt different, which is uncharacteristic for breast cancer. One was hard as a pea, one squishy like an eyeball, one somewhere between the two. I was convinced that one of those was cancer, but not all three.
I took action and received extra mammogram imaging, ultrasound and biopsies. The lumps did not present themselves on the mammogram but they did on ultrasound. I now know that the type of breast cancer I had does not usually show up on a mammogram. This is why it is so important for women to examine their own breasts. I was my own self-defense. All three lumps were cancer and the same type of cancer.
At that point hard decisions had to be made. Due to having family history of breast cancer, my cancers not being able to be found by mammography, and that the masses were quick growing, I chose to have a bilateral mastectomy. There is no way I wanted to relive this nightmare again down the road.
Lymph nodes were clear (thank God), but due to my young age (ha!) and all that I’ve stated earlier, it was recommended that I have chemotherapy, six treatments of that horrible “cocktail” (wish it was wine).
I know most of you are familiar with chemo and its effects, so I won’t go into that. Just know that it is “liquid devil in a bag.” Awful! Once that fun was over, phew, I received 33 radiation treatments to my chest wall. No picnic there either. Many other tests are performed along the way, PET Scan, MRI, lots of blood work, etc.
One year later, I’m here to tell my story. I made it through this tough time because of the Lord and everyone who loves me.
People are good. Everyone from my oldest dearest friends, to pals around town, to complete strangers, showed me love.
My message is this: Cancer is not a death sentence. This ugly can be fought.
I implore everyone to be proactive with your health care. Don’t live in denial. Cancer can happen to anyone.
Cancer is sneaky. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you do. Take care of yourself because you matter and are worthy of a healthy, happy life.
God bless you.
Editor’s Note: Diane Fieger, a Ramona resident, shares her story as part of the Ramona Relay for Life fundraising effort for cancer research and education. The 24-hour relay will be at the Wilson Stadium, 720 Ninth St., from 8 a.m. May 12 to 8 a.m. May 13. Teams are forming for the annual event. For details, contact Lyn Hardy at 760-789-5170, 760-315-3053 or firstname.lastname@example.org.