the doctor will say it's nothing, just a cyst. But the woman says it's just not right. You have to trust your instincts. It'll only cost you the amount of a doctor's visit."
Ivester, who had worked as a pharmaceutical sales representative until she lost her job in a downsizing, kept her COBRA insurance, which covered her medical bills. After a lumpectomy, she was a radiant June bride, then she had additional surgery that showed the cancer was limited to the breast.
Now she's undergoing four weeks of chemotherapy before beginning six weeks of radiation.
"I got lucky," she says. "The doctor told me she has three miracles a year, and I was one of them because it had not spread at all."
A second opinion gave Chapman McMeekin the peace of mind to forego chemo and radiation after she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
A stay-at-home mom with a 9-year-old son and 7-year-old daughter, the Spartanburg woman began having mammograms at 30 because her mother had breast cancer. Two years ago, the test showed a change and because she was just 34, she was told she could wait six months and check it again.
"I said, 'I can't sit here and worry about this for six months,' she recalls. "When you're 34, you have to be even more proactive about your health, especially when it comes to breast cancer, because the general consensus out there is that it doesn't happen to young women.
"You have to follow your gut."
A biopsy revealed stage 2 invasive cancer. A second biopsy confirmed the diagnosis. She had the option of a lumpectomy and radiation or a bilateral mastectomy and reconstruction. She chose the mastectomy.
Afterward, she was told she also should have chemotherapy. But McMeekin remembered how chemo weakened her mother's heart so badly she needed a transplant. And she knew about the other potential side effects as well. So she decided to investigate the options.
Because there was no sign of cancer in her lymph nodes, her team concluded hormonal therapy would be as effective. So McMeekin takes drugs to suppress her estrogen levels.
"I did not want to do the chemo and what I found from a second opinion is confidence in my treatment," she says. "Having two oncology minds agree to a treatment makes it easier to make the best decision."
Deciding to take action instead of wait also made a difference, she says.
"Had I waited six months, I have no doubt it would have been in my lymph nodes," she says.
"If you feel it's not normal, it's not normal," says Thompson. "Go get a second opinion."