CLEVELAND (WJW) – Cleveland Clinic nurse Dawn Wiklinski admits avoiding getting a mammogram for three years, until the spring 2021.
“I’m a nurse, I’m invincible, nothing happens to me,” she said.
While the mammogram showed no signs of any tumors, technicians suspected something wasn’t right.
“I ended up having to go back again and having an ultrasound and that’s when the radiologist told me that I needed to go get a biopsy,” she said.
The 56-year-old wife and mother of three boys, was diagnosed with invasive lobular carcinoma, which makes up about 15% of cases in the U.S.
While we’re all more familiar with the round lumps as a sign of cancer in the breast, lobular cancer cells grow in lines, producing tumors that look more like spider webs and often not detected until stage 3 or 4 cancer, spreading to other parts of the body.
“It can really evade the mammogram and we tend to do breast MRI or other techniques to make the accurate diagnoses of invasive lobular,” she said.
Cleveland Clinic breast cancer specialist Dr. Jame Abraham says the Clinic has now joined forces with the University of Pittsburgh and The Ohio State University to further study this sub-type invasive cancer.
The study involving 33,000 patients is still underway.
“There’s a chance of delayed recurrence in patients with lobular cancer. So it’s important for us to continue to follow these patients for a long time,” said Dr. Abraham.
The goal is to put more effort into improving early detection by developing new imaging technologies.
“Once I finally realized that this was me and I had to tell my boys, that’s when it really hit me,” Wiklinski said.
Wiklinski went under went a bi-lateral mastectomy, but still lives day to day, knowing the cancer could return.
Her husband, children and friends, her biggest supporters.
“Everyone knows their body. Everyone knows when something’s changing to them. Please be an advocate for yourself,” Wiklinski said.
Wiklinski recommends that anyone who may notice symptoms, like dimpling in the breast, rashes, nipple changes or sudden pain, to reach out to your physician.
It’s also important to note Wiklinski does not have any family history of cancer.