Photo credit: April Addison (Fox5)
Experiencing changes in your breasts during pregnancy is to be expected, so when April Addison felt a small, hard knot in her breast near her nipple, she chalked it up to a clogged milk duct since her breast milk was coming in. Unfourtanetly, it turned out to be something much worst.
Toward the end of her pregnancy, the lump suddenly started to hurt, then the pain disappeared. Concerned, Addison told her obstetrician, during her 39-week check-up. She was referred to another doctor for a breast ultrasound to take a closer look at the lump.
The confusion is something that her oncologist says is understandable.
“With breast cancers, it can be really hard during pregnancy, because there are so many changes that are happening in your breast that you just have a hard time knowing, is this normal or not normal,” her oncologist Dr. Amelia Zelnak, the president of Atlanta Cancer Care says.
Addison gave birth to her son, Ashton on June 27, 2022 by caesarian section. The next day, the 32-year-old was officially diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer.
“I was, you know, hurt,” Addison says. “I was confused. I felt like, man, I had been given a bad hand. I’m like, ‘Why is this happening to me, you know, right now?”
While she was in the hospital, she had her first mammogram and breast MRI where she and her doctor discussed her treatment options.
Within a couple of weeks, she was informed that she would need to start treatment, which would likely include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.
“She chose to get the chemotherapy first, which we do oftentimes in younger women where we know that chemotherapy absolutely needs to be done,” Dr. Zelnak says. Getting chemotherapy also gave the new mother time to think about the next step in her treatment journey.
So, instead of rushing into, ‘I just had this baby, and now I have to make a major decision in the next week or two about what type of surgery I want to have,’ she had 4 months to consider her options about how to best proceed,” Dr. Zelnak says.
In the end, Addison choose a bilateral mastectomy, which is the surgical removal of both breasts. A bilateral mastectomy radically lowers the risk of a recurrence.
Once she is completely healed from the operation, Addison’s next step will be radiation therapy.
In the meantime, Addison is balancing taking care of her sons, 6-month-old Ashton and 3-year-old Aiden as well as being a wife to her husband Leo while she recovers from a mastectomy and breast reconstruction surgery.