April Leader Navigates Life with Breast Cancer
The Ashland Beacon
When April Leader started having abdominal pain, she never imagined it would change her life forever.
Leader visited King’s Daughter Medical Center to find out what was wrong. After a scan of her stomach, her nurse realized Leader hadn’t had a mammogram in three years and asked while she was there if she would like to do one.
“I was already there, so I thought why not,” Leader said. “After that scan is when everything changed.”
Results from Leader's mammogram showed that she had a 0.5-millimeter lump in her breast.
“They immediately sent me to Dr. Legenza, where he did a contrast scan where they found an 8 centimeter.” Leader said. “What they found in the mammogram was just the very tip of the tumor.”
Leader was diagnosed with Invasive Nodular Carcinoma. After being diagnosed, Leader and her doctors had to make a difficult decision about treatment, and Leader decided to have a bilateral mastectomy in hopes of getting rid of the cancer. With one surgery just completed, Leader headed into another surgery on Dec. 27, 2018, where she underwent a full hysterectomy.
“I just wanted it all to be gone,” Leader said. “I didn’t want to take any chances of it coming back.”
Once Leader’s second surgery was complete and the pathology results came back, she received shocking news. Her entire uterus, both fallopian tubes and her ovaries, showed evidence of cancer cells which restaged Leader’s diagnosis to Metastatic Breast Cancer (MBC), which currently does not have a cure.
“Right now, my life expectancy is three to five years,” Leader said. “The hope is, in those years, that we do find a cure.”
While Leader has plenty to get down about, no one would ever describe her that way. Many of Leader’s friends and family describe her as the most positive person anyone could ever meet.
“I have so much support from my family and friends and being in a bad mood just isn’t me,” Leader said. “I try to stay positive and help spread awareness of this type of cancer.”
Through Leader's journey, she said she has learned more medical terms and about cancer than she ever cared to learn. One of the stunning facts about MBC is that, unlike other people with breast cancer, she will never get to “ring the bell” and will be in treatment for the remainder of her life.
“At this time, radiation and aggressive chemotherapy is not part of my treatment plan,” Leader said.
After getting a second opinion, Leader, along with her doctors, agreed the best plan for her was to keep her comfortable from the pain and cancer.
“The reality is there is no cure for MBC at this time,” Leader said. “The best approach is to give me quality of life by using the least aggressive treatment.”
Leader explained the cancer has already spread through her body and at this stage of her battle, it will only be a matter of time before it will show up in her bones, lungs, or brain.
With a new expectation of what the future will offer, Leader is now doing everything she can to raise money to find a cure and bring awareness to the disease while still working full time.
“My work family has been great,” Leader said. “Through the support of my co-workers, friends, family and God, I have faith and that keeps me in a good mindset.”
Leader also shared she has created a bucket list and plans to step back from busy work and enjoy life a little bit more.
“My sister and I have some plans to travel,” Leader said. “My hope is sometime in my lifetime we find a cure.”