Joy Butler lives with her husband in Punta Gorda. They are originally from Memphis, Tennessee.
When were you diagnosed and at what age?
I was diagnosed with metaplastic carcinoma, which is more of a sarcoma-like type of tumor, at the age of 63 in December of 2010.
What type of treatment did you receive?
I opted for a modified radical mastectomy with axillary node dissection on my right breast. Following my treatment, I then decided to have a simple mastectomy on my left breast, it was a personal decision for my own peace of mind. My pet scan following surgery showed no remaining cancer cells, my lymph nodes were clear also.
Because the tumor was a fast-growing kind, it was recommended that I have chemotherapy followed by radiation; my treatment was finished in November of 2011. For a while, I had check-ups with my oncologist every six months, then later I was able to go to yearly check-ups.
Did you face any obstacles? If so, how did you overcome them?
The only problem that I had was when my port clotted off and I had to have it removed and was put on blood thinners. But I was able to finish the chemo with no further issues other than the loss of hair and nausea now and then. I really was fortunate to not have any permanent issues.
Where did you find the greatest support?
I was given the best of care and was blessed with my wonderful support group. My husband and family and wonderful friends were truly amazing. I love them all and appreciated their support.
What have you learned about yourself? How has this experience changed you?
I have learned that I am a survivor and am still friends with other cancer survivors. You become sort of a "sisterhood" of warriors. It can happen to any of us.
What advice would you give to others?
Early detection is so important so I urge people often to get mammograms and do self-exams monthly as we know our breasts better than anyone. We know that breast cancer doesn't have to be a death sentence anymore, research has made great strides in treatment of breast cancer.