Survival Through Tough Choices

Lisa Patrick

The Ashland Beacon


   Jan Diamond Malone is 64-years-old and has been having regular mammograms every year since she turned 40. Last December, she went for her regularly scheduled mammogram. She said, “I breezed through it and came back home.” Then she got the call that would forever change her life.

   St Mary’s Breast Center called her and said that something on her mammogram didn’t look quite right. They brought her in for another mammogram and did not like what they were seeing, so they scheduled her for a sonogram. After the sonogram, Malone was told that there was a “spot” but that they could not tell what it was. They scheduled her an appointment to see a surgeon for a biopsy.

   Dr. Moosavi, head of St. Mary’s Breast Care Center, did Malone’s lumpectomy. He told her that the lump that he removed was a cancer called Ductal Carcinoma - a common type of breast cancer that forms in the cells in the milk ducts. However, while Dr. Moosavi was removing the lump, he looked around in the tissue of her breast. Malone said that he did “not like the look of the matter in there,” so he sent some of her breast tissue for additional testing.

   The tests came back that she also had lobular cancer. Dr. Moosavi told Malone that it is rare to have two different cancers to form in one breast and that it was no longer an option to do a partial removal. He recommended that she go ahead and have a partial mastectomy.

   Malone feels that she was lucky that the breast tissue was sent off for additional testing. Lobular cancer is not usually seen on a mammogram until it gets so large that it is too late to rectify. It is usually stage four by the time that it is found. The lobular cancer had already started to spread some, and there was one micro metastatic cell found in her sentinel lymph node.

   Malone asked about the chances of the lobular cancer moving to the other breast and was told that there was a 50 percent chance that it would, even though the mammogram showed the other breast to be clear. So Malone asked about a double mastectomy. She said that she felt that she “may as well do it once instead of having to come back a second time.”   

   Malone’s surgery was scheduled for March 12 of this year and she “about lost my mind” while waiting for the surgery. She said that it was scheduled further out because Dr. Moosavi wanted enough time to do everything right.

   Malone’s surgery lasted five and a half hours. Several oblong tumors and oblong tumors with fingerlings were removed. During the surgery, a relatively new procedure, called the Goldilocks procedure, was performed. The Goldilocks procedure involves taking the extra skin that is left after all of the breast tissue is removed and wrapping it and folding it to make tiny breasts. Malone is only the third woman in the tri-state area to have this procedure performed.

   Malone still had to be evaluated to see if she would need radiation or chemotherapy. Once testing was performed because of the one micro met that had been found in the lymph node. Malone was lucky. The oncotest came up negative, which meant that she would not need chemotherapy. The radiologist said that there did not appear to be anything left, so no radiation was needed either. She will also never need another mammogram, as there is no breast tissue left. Malone will have to take a cancer pill called Anastrozole for the next five years, but will not need any further treatment.

   Malone  is “thankful that technology has come so far” but says that the fight against cancer takes both husband and wife. She and her husband had only been married about six months when she was diagnosed and she says that her husband, John Malone, was with her through everything, and having her husband’s support was everything. He told her that she was beautiful and that her breasts were not important because he married her for more than that. She said that it made all the difference in her battle.

   “The Lord gets all the honor, praise, and glory” and that she is “so very blessed with His grace,” Malone offered.