I was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a childhood cancer, when I was 6 months old in 1950. It was treated successfully with surgery plus very large doses of radiation therapy. My parents, and later I, were extra vigilant regarding my subsequent health, always wondering if any additional health problems might develop secondary to the radiation therapy that cured me of my first cancer. I first had two "cancer scares," developing a thyroid tumor in 1962 and ovarian tumors in 1972, both of which, thankfully, were benign.
When I was 34 years old, I discovered a lump in my left breast, which was determined to be malignant, a 2.5 cm invasive intra-ductal carcinoma with indeterminate estrogen receptor status. Due to the large amount of radiation I received after my neuroblastoma diagnosis, a lumpectomy followed by radiation therapy was not an option for me. Therefore, I had a modified radical mastectomy with lymph node dissection, which showed one positive lymph node. I underwent 6 cycles of chemotherapy (Cytoxan, Methotrexate, and 5-FU) and then took the anti-estrogen drug Tamoxifen. During the following 10+ year time period, my immune function (total white blood cell count) never returned to the normal range (4000-10,000), usually being in the low 2000s and sometimes even lower.
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