- 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
  • COMMENTARY: An alternative diagnosis to ADHD: Schoolchildren need more time to move

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tells us that in recent years, there has been a jump in the percentage of young people diagnosed with attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, commonly known as ADHD: 7.8 percent in 2003 to 9.5 percent in 2007 to 11 percent in 2011.

    July 18, 2014

  • Guideline: Most healthy women can skip pelvic exam

    No more dreaded pelvic exam? New guidelines say most healthy women can skip the yearly ritual.

    July 1, 2014

  • Sanofi targets fake Viagra market with non-prescription Cialis

    Sanofi sees an attractive opportunity in the rampant market for counterfeit Viagra: luring men away from dodgy online pharmacies with an over-the-counter version of a competing erection drug.

    June 5, 2014

  • Hospital charges to treat chest pain jump 10 percent in a year

    The charge to treat Medicare patients with chest pain at U.S. hospitals rose 10 percent to $18,568 in just a year, the biggest rise seen among the most common inpatient procedures, according to federal data.

    June 2, 2014

  • Study: Both men and women feel less stress at work than at home

    In a newly released study in the Journal of Science and Medicine, researchers carefully examined the levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, of a variety of workers throughout the day. The data clearly showed that both men and women are significantly less stressed out at work than they are at home.
     And the women they studied said they were happier at work. While the men said they felt happier at home.

    May 26, 2014

  • Jobless contend with weight gain as they search for work

    A subject long ignored by policymakers, and one that unemployment counselors are too sheepish to raise with job seekers, the link between bulging waistlines and joblessness is now of intense interest to researchers studying the long-term effects of the country's economic malaise.

    May 12, 2014

  • COMMENTARY: Helmets won't protect your kids from concussions

    When I was a kid, helmets were for motorcyclists. Now I see children wearing helmets when they're scooting down sidewalks, skating, skiing, sledding and playing soccer. Last week one of my friends saw a helmeted kid power-walking in Prospect Park. You can even buy $40 baby helmets on Amazon, because, according to the product description, "babies will always fall taking their first steps."

    May 2, 2014

  • 400px-Cannabis_Plant.jpg How bad is marijuana for your health?

    The Journal of Neuroscience recently published a study linking recreational marijuana use to subtle changes in brain structure. The researchers, led by Jodi Gilman of Massachusetts General Hospital, identified increased gray matter density in the left nucleus accumbens and some bordering areas.

    May 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • American sunscreens need an upgrade

    The last time a new sunscreen ingredient came on the U.S. market, the Y2K bug was threatening to destroy our way of life. Intel had just introduced the Pentium III processor, featuring an amazing 500 MHz of computing power.

    April 24, 2014

  • Cuba is running out of condoms

    The newest item on Cuba's list of dwindling commodities is condoms, which are now reportedly in short supply. In response, the Cuban government has approved the sale of expired condoms.

    April 23, 2014