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July Buddy Check 9: A Viewer Shares Her Cancer Journey

5:50 AM, Jul 9, 2013   |    comments
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WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- "Hi Andrea. I've been watching you for years on the morning news as I prepared for work."

That's how Voleka Stewart began her email to me.

As a regular morning news viewer, she was familiar with me urging women and men to follow all the steps to Early Detection and about finding and being a Buddy.

Stewart says she always thought "that's awesome, that's great," but says she's never reached out to the other women in her life.

"Once my cancer journey began and I realized there was more to it, I wanted to just share it with you."

Stewart's journey began in 2012.

She had been doing regular mammograms for about nine years, because her mother, Veronica is a 19 year survivor.

That all changed last year.

Stewart says last summer she noticed a discharge from her right breast.

She went to her gynocologist on January 6th.

After several biopsies and MRIs, she found out she had cancer.

"My breast surgeon informed me that I have DCIS in more than one duct, and Atypia in two ducts."

Before going through with a scheduled lumpectomy, Stewart's surgeon, Dr. Susan Kesmodel, ordered one more test, a bilateral MRI.

She says It was very helpful because it showed other things that were not seen on mammography.

Dr. Kesmodel says this test isn't for every patient, just those with a known genetic mutation, and those with a higher breast cancer risk because of family history.

Dr. Kesmodel also says the test helped Stewart make her decision on what type of surgical procedure she would have and it saved her from multiple surgeries.

Stewart chose a bilateral mastectomy with immediate reconstruction.

She says her cancer is Stage Zero and she will most likely not have to have chemotherapy.

She also won't have to have radiation.

Stewart has a 93% chance of being cancer free in five years.

Stewart's advice is "if you feel something go see your doctor and don't be afraid."

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