BAY VILLAGE, Ohio (WJW)– Colleen Haddad was first diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer at the age of 35 with a husband and four young children at home.
“My oldest was only 12 at the time and my youngest was 4. So I was really nervous and scared that I wasn’t gonna be around to watch them grow up,” she said.
Shortly after finding a lump through a self-breast exam, Haddad underwent a double-mastectomy, chemo and radiation. But after two years of being cancer free, while helping her best friend battle the same disease, a follow-up MRI would reveal more devastating news. This time it was stage 3.
“And they discovered my cancer had returned in my lymph nodes.”
So is this a rare occurrence? Dr. Chirag Shah, director of breast radiation oncology at the Cleveland Clinic, said it’s more common than you may think.
“Unfortunately, recurrences in breast cancer, even after treatment, are not uncommon. The risk of those reoccurrences are really dependent on many factors including the stage of the breast cancer diagnosis, as well as factors like the patient’s age where younger women are more likely to develop reoccurrences than older women.”
The risk, according to Shah, can be as low as 5 percent at 10 years in early stage breast cancers, all the way up to 15 to 20 percent risk of the cancer returning in the breast and lymph nodes in more advanced cancers.
Despite several surgeries and a year of chemotherapy, Haddad didn’t let her health battle stop her from living out her dreams. She opened her West Side Barre studio in Avon back in June and can proudly say she is in remission for a second time.
Her message to those currently in the fight of their lives: “You can get through it if you have a positive attitude, if you rise up every day, take a deep breath, take one or two steps forward and continue to move on.”