- Cullman, Alabama


May 15, 2013

Her Doctor Dismissed the Lump in Her Breast

With this article, Kathryn Petrides begins writing an occasional series for The Post that will focus on what she calls "balancing life as a 'normal' 26-year-old and a cancer patient." 

It was on the weekend of my 25th birthday that my boyfriend alerted me to a lump in my left breast. At first dismissive of his concern, I eventually promised to see my gynecologist. I was due for my annual exam anyway.

About three weeks later, I walked away from the doctor visit confident and reassured. My gynecologist conducted a breast exam, made note of the lump's size and sent me on my way. She didn't order a mammogram or an ultrasound or suggest a follow-up appointment.

"She said considering my age and family history, it's probably just a cyst or a fibro-something and to keep an eye on it," I reported back to my boyfriend.

So, I continued with my normal life in Washington, where I've lived since 2005.

Fast-forward to July 2012, more than six months after the discovery of the lump. I had been accepted into a program to teach English in Leon, Spain. I gave notice to my employer here, completed the paperwork for my visa and booked my plane ticket. Dreaming about tapas and siestas, I'd forgotten about the mass in my breast. My boyfriend hadn't, and he urged me to follow up on it.

Deep down, something told me he was right. You can probably guess what happened next.

I have cancer, an aggressive kind that has already spread to my lymph nodes. In official "cancer talk," I have grade three invasive ductal carcinoma that is estrogen-, progesterone- and HER2Neu-positive. I chose to participate in a clinical trial that entailed neoadjuvant chemotherapy — a fancy way of saying chemotherapy before surgery — so I will never have an official staging because they cannot know with certainty how many of my lymph nodes contained cancer cells.

Text Only
  • Doctors to rate cost effectiveness of expensive cancer drugs

    The world's largest organization of cancer doctors plans to rate the cost effectiveness of expensive oncology drugs, and will urge physicians to use the ratings to discuss the costs with their patients.

    April 16, 2014

  • treadmill-very-fast.jpg Tax deduction for a gym membership?

    April marks another tax season when millions of Americans will deduct expenses related to home ownership, children and education from their annual tax bill. These deductions exist because of their perceived value to society; they encourage behaviors that keep the wheels of the economy turning. So why shouldn't the tax code be revised to reward preventive health?

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Boston doctors can now prescribe you a bike

    The City of Boston this week is rolling out a new program that's whimsically known as "Prescribe-a-Bike." Part medicine, part welfare, the initiative allows doctors at Boston Medical Center to write "prescriptions" for low-income patients to get yearlong memberships to Hubway, the city's bike-share system, for only $5.

    April 12, 2014

  • Fast, cheap test can help save lives of many babies

    As Easley did more research into her daughter's death, she learned that a pilot program had started just months earlier at Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring, Md. (Easley had delivered at a different hospital in the Washington area.) The program's goal was to screen every newborn with a simple pulse oximeter test that can help detect heart problems such as Veronica's, allowing doctors to respond.

    April 8, 2014

  • CEMS groundbreaking CEMS holds groundbreaking

    March 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Which foods are the worst for the environment?

    As with most arguments about our food supply, though, it's not that simple. Although beef is always climatically costly, pork or chicken can be a better choice than broccoli, calorie for calorie.

    March 15, 2014

  • ERIC-HOLDER.jpg Holder: Heroin deaths an 'urgent and growing public health crisis'

    Attorney General Eric Holder, calling the rise in deaths from overdoses of heroin and prescription painkillers an "urgent and growing public health crisis," is outlining a series of efforts by the Justice Department to combat the epidemic.

    March 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Study says too much protein could lead to early death

    Even as researchers warned of the health risks of high-protein diets in middle age, they said eating more protein actually could be a smart move for people over 65.

    March 4, 2014

  • Six reasons childhood obesity has fallen so much

    A major new paper appearing in Wednesday's edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association finds that childhood obesity - age 2 to 5 - has fallen from 13.9 percent in 2003-04 to 8.4 percent in 2011-12.

    February 27, 2014

  • Does your insurance plan cover self-inflicted injuries?

    Dealing with a suicide or attempted suicide is stressful enough. Some health plans make the experience worse by refusing to cover medical costs for injuries that are related to suicide or an attempt - even though experts say that in many cases such exclusions aren't permitted under federal law.

    February 26, 2014

AP Video