Setting the Pace and Saving Lives
Lifesaving Conversation Leads to Life—Pacesetter Amanda Barrett
Point Pleasant, NJ – October 11,2012 – Several years ago just before her 30th birthday, Amanda Barrett had a lifesaving conversation. A carefree chat at work—dreaded spreadsheets, summer Fridays—turned to the lump in her breast.
“My friend Allie took one look at me and said, ‘You are not leaving my office until you pick up the phone and call your doctor.’ She urged me to do it for my little boy,” said Amanda.
That phone call—prompted by a faithful friend—probably saved her life.
At 29, Amanda wasn’t worried about the lump, because she was so young. She already had a benign fibroid tumor as a teenager. When she called to schedule the mammogram and ultrasound her doctor prescribed, even the receptionist told her she was too young.
“At the imaging center, the radiologist told me to get to a breast surgeon as soon as possible,” said Amanda. “I left the office with an uneasy feeling, but still refused to believe it could be anything but a fibroid tumor.”
Unfortunately, the biopsy results revealed breast cancer. And the following weeks were a whirlwind of tests and treatments that included lumpectomy, CAT scan, bone scan, heart scan, and MRI.
“It was crazy—especially for a girl who had never broken a bone,” said Amanda, “My treatment plan included four rounds of traditional chemotherapy, one year of Herceptin, 30 rounds of radiation, and five years of tamoxifen,” said Amanda. “It was a much different cocktail than I had planned for my 30th birthday.
“Chemo wasn’t so bad. My doctor prescribed medications to combat side effects, and I tried to live a normal life, said Amanda, “I got down on the floor and played with my three-year old every night. And I continued to work full-time.”
Six months later, Amanda was feeling like herself again. The worst of her treatments were behind her, and she was sporting a new curly do. That’s when she decided to pursue genetic counseling.
“I found out that I had the mutated BRCA2 gene. It was almost a relief,” said Amanda. “Because I learned I hadn’t caused the cancer, but there was something I could do to prevent it from coming back.”
Amanda chose a prophylactic double mastectomy and reconstruction.
“I was told by other doctors that reconstruction on my radiated breast was nearly impossible. But my talented team of plastic surgeons gave me two perfectly matching breasts, and I’m now the envy of my girlfriends,” joked Amanda.
Amanda turned heads, telling her inspiring story of strength at the Point Pleasant Making Strides Against Breast Cancer breakfast, where she described herself as grateful.
“Grateful to my friend, Allie. Grateful to my mother and family. Grateful to my doctors."
Amanda who is now 34 years old will be celebrating her 4th Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event this year.
“Together with my family and friends, I plan to keep walking every year and raising every dollar possible until we find a cure for breast cancer, and there is no longer a need to walk.”
About the American Cancer Society
The American Cancer Society combines an unyielding passion with nearly a century of experience to save lives and end suffering from cancer. As a global grassroots force of more than three million volunteers, we fight for every birthday threatened by every cancer in every community. We save lives by helping people stay well by preventing cancer or detecting it early; helping people get well by being there for them during and after a cancer diagnosis; by finding cures through investment in groundbreaking discovery; and by fighting back by rallying lawmakers to pass laws to defeat cancer and by rallying communities worldwide to join the fight. As the nation’s largest non-governmental investor in cancer research, contributing more than $3.4 billion, we turn what we know about cancer into what we do. As a result, more than 11 million people in America who have had cancer and countless more who have avoided it will be celebrating birthdays this year. To learn more about us or to get help, call us any time, day or night, at 1-800-227-2345 or visit cancer.org.