Breast cancer survivor, Jodi RagnerOn Feb. 1, 2006, a week before my 35th birthday, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I found the lump myself and knew that I needed to get this checked right away. I already knew I was high risk. My grandma and my mom had breast cancer, and I’d already had two mammos prior to this, the last mammogram being just 14 months before.

I made my appointment with the Norma J. Vinger Center for Breast Care at Gundersen and knew I was going to be in good hands.

Being only 34, I knew that this was probably going to be nothing; my mom was 45 when she was diagnosed so I had time if I was going to be diagnosed. I came in and had another mammogram and it showed definite changes. I was taken in for an ultrasound and the radiologist said right away that the lump was highly suspicious for cancer and wanted to do biopsies.

I thought, "CANCER…no way. I'm only 34. I'm too young. I have two children. If this is going to happen, I have until my 40s!"

But, that was not the case. The biopsies showed I was stage 2. The next step was testing for the BRCA gene. This ended up being negative and the result helped me decide which surgery I was going to have. On Feb. 20, I had a left skin sparing mastectomy with tram flap reconstruction. After surgery, I was told that three lymph nodes were found to be positive. I already knew that I had to have chemo, but then I had to decide if I was going to do radiation. I opted to do the 27 rounds of radiation after my eight doses of chemo.

Here I am three-and-a-half years later, healthy and feeling wonderful and I thank everyone who helped me with this journey. Just remember, cancer doesn't discriminate against anyone, so please remember to do self exams. There's nobody that knows you better than yourself!

Think Pink!

Jodi Ragner

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