Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans’ Hospital
I Survived Breast Cancer
My name is Dawn Adams and I am an Army Veteran. I served for eight years on active duty and three years in the reserves. I was an Army Engineer working as a heavy equipment operator. I had fun blowing things up, working in the dirt, building and making areas nice as well as storm and disaster clean-ups. I also had the opportunity to be an instructor for a year as well as work with community members to help with many construction projects.
I am a wife and mother of two wonderful children - a 14-year-old daughter and a 16-year-old son who is a high functioning autistic. My son plays football, which helps him gain social skills. My daughter is testing for her Black Belt in karate. I enjoy spending time with family, reading, outdoor activities, and cooking.
VA set up my annual mammogram at Ellis Fischel in April 2016. I was 44 and had been doing my mammograms since I turned 40. Within a week or so, I got a call to come back to the clinic. I was advised that my mammogram showed calcifications that were a good indicator I had early stage breast cancer. I had an ultrasound and biopsy that verified the later diagnosis of DCIS (Ductal carcinoma in situ). I elected to have a lumpectomy for what was thought to be a small spot. The MRI was wrong. When I had my lumpectomy, it turned out the cancer had spread to a little more than 10 percent in my left breast, which resulted in a mastectomy on that side. After further research on my own, I found out DCIS has a 40 percent return rate. That number was too high for me and I elected to have a double mastectomy with reconstruction. So far, I am cancer free. September 1 marked a year after my first surgery for my masectomy.
Final test results found I was positive for the Her 2 gene, which means I had an invasive form of DCIS. I also elected to have genetic testing for BRCA 1 and 2. That test was negative. I feel that I made the right decision. My primary care doctor told me a couple years ago that I did not need a mammogram every year if I did not have a family history of breast cancer and if my last mammogram came back negative.
I cannot talk enough about how important it is for all women to have their mammogram every year. If I had waited one more year, I may not have been so lucky to catch the cancer early. This is totally a lifesaving exam and could change your life forever. A little discomfort in exchange for a lifetime with your loved ones is not too much to ask. If you are scared, I will go with you.
For more information, contact your Truman VA Primary Care Provider at 573-814-6000. Truman VA is committed to the fight against breast cancer.
Veterans, visitors and staff are encouraged to participate in Breast Cancer Awareness by wearing PINK on Friday, October 20. Also, stop by the Truman VA lobby that day. Between 8 am and 4 pm, you can check out our display of PINK PUMPKINS and the educational booth sponsored by the American Cancer Society and Ellis Fischel Cancer Center.