Two years ago, Texas mom Jennifer Cordts noticed some red inflammation on her left breast. Although it looked like a sunburn, she decided to get a mammogram. She told Dallas radio station, WWFA, that when the test came back negative, they told her that her bra was just too tight.
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However, when the spot didn’t go away, she decided to Google her symptoms. The first thing that popped up was inflammatory breast cancer, also known as IBC. “Everyone was asleep and I was terrified,” she told the station.
Persistent and scared, she went back to the doctor to have a biopsy. It was revealed that she did in fact have stage 4 IBC, a cancer that doesn’t show on a mammogram. At this point, it had spread from her breast to her lymph nodes, bones and liver. The mom of two was given just three to five years to live.
Only 1 to 5 percent of all breast cancer diagnoses turn out to be IBC. It’s a difficult one to catch because women with IBC rarely develop a lump, which is why doctors didn’t catch it during Cordts’ mammogram. Along with the redness, other symptoms could be skin that looks bruised, pain and tenderness, an inverted nipple and swollen lymph nodes under the arm or near the collarbone.
It’s an aggressive type of cancer, so treatment is a combination of chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. Cordts is currently undergoing radiation to slow down the progression of the disease.
“I really want this to educate,” she said. “I really want someone to go, ‘Oh my gosh, I have redness in my breast. I better push past the mammogram and ask for some more tests.’” She’s making the most of her time, checking things off her bucket list. She’s gone to see Celine Dion and taken her daughter to the beach for the first time.
Although rashes like these could be easily written off as an allergic reaction or sunburn, this story is proof that it’s always better to be safe and get yourself checked.
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