Meet Chrissie Bergstrom
"My name is Chrissie Morrell Bergstrom and I am a 39-year old survivor of breast cancer. My mother was diagnosed when she was 45 so at her doctor’s encouragement, I have been having mammograms since I was 35. When the tech asks you after the mammogram to, “Please do not change into your clothes and have a seat for a moment” and then, “We’d like to do another scan” and then “The doctor would like to speak to you for a moment” your heart just drops. In January 2008, that happened to me.
After having a biopsy to check out a suspicious area, I was told that I had Stage 0 Ductal Carcinoma In-Situ (DCIS); cancer was found inside the milk ducts of my right breast. Three days later I went to my doctor appointment thinking that with a low-risk cancer, it must be an easy surgery. I learned that I was to have a bi-lateral mastectomy. I never reacted to that news, I was in shock. After the mastectomy, the pathology reports showed that the original biopsy was inaccurate and the cancer was not all contained in the ducts. Because the cancer had spread into my breast, I was recategorized as Stage 1 and chemo was suggested. I was lucky, I had no lymph node involvement, meaning that the cancer ‘maybe’ did not spread to the rest of my body.
I let them install a little plastic purple port in my chest and then received six rounds of chemo (lost my hair and gained 20 lbs) and had a Herceptin IV every three weeks for a year (with minor side effects). I finished my Herceptin in March and am now taking a daily pill called Tamoxifin for five years that will slow down the estrogen production that my type of cancer needs to survive. I am at peace with my decision to have the mastectomy. I feel that I have taken all of the available steps to try and keep cancer from coming back. The rest is still unwritten.
Like most diagnosed women, I went to my Oncologist desperate for a million answers and the golden cure. It is very scary to learn that your doctors do not know what will save you, there is no golden cure. This is the message that needs to get out – the doctors do not have enough data and research to tell us for sure what treatments will save us from breast cancer. All they can do is rely on the data that they have been given. This is why the Avon walk and Susan G. Komen and all of the fund raisers around the world are so important to all of us. So in a few years when our sisters, daughters, nieces or cousins ask the doctors to save them, because of the tireless people in the world like The Tanner Ta Tas that are raising so much money to keep the research running, the doctors will know how.