After spending years of her life helping care for others, Anna Goodwin, a registered nurse and DeKalb County resident, found herself needing care earlier this year when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Goodwin, a 42 year old wife and mother of three, told WJLE Tuesday that she discovered a mast in her breast during a self examination in March and then went to the doctor for a mammogram and later for a biopsy.
“That’s when my world came crashing down around me. I almost had a nervous breakdown at the beginning of the diagnosis just because it was so overwhelming. I just never thought it would be me,” said Goodwin.
Other than high blood pressure, Goodwin had never experienced any significant health issues prior to her diagnosis but she decided to have a checkup after talking with the wife of one of her patient’s. “ She had a mammogram and they found a spot on her breast. It prompted me to check mine. I found a hard mast in my right outer upper breast area. I had a couple of friends to feel of it too and they said I needed to get it checked out,” Goodwin said.
“My nurse practitioner friend gave me an order for a mammogram so I went to Cookeville for that on March 18 and had a mammogram. They did an immediate ultrasound because it looked abnormal and when my nurse practitioner got the results she told me I needed to go for a biopsy. I went to McMinnville to Dr. Bradford Brock and had a biopsy on March 31. I had a follow up appointment with him on April 4 to get the results and that’s when I learned I was triple positive. I had triple positive breast cancer meaning that it was estrogen and progesterone receptor positive. There was a third factor which is the HER2 factor. It’s a protein that we make in our bodies and it was over producing those cells making it a little bit more aggressive than it normally would be. They immediately put me on Tamoxifen because that blocks the estrogen and progesterone to keep it from spreading any further. I had several scans and a few (cells) showed up in my lymph nodes but my full body scans were all clear. I didn’t have any metastasis anywhere other than the local lymph nodes,” said Goodwin.
After undergoing a double Mastectomy in May, Goodwin still takes treatments to keep the cancer from recurring but she is on the road to recovery. “I had a double Mastectomy May 11 with immediate reconstruction where they put tissue expanders in so when you’re through with treatment you can get your implants put in. They got all the cancer during surgery. They removed fourteen of my lymph nodes. Four were positive. I started chemotherapy on June 14 with Taxotere and Carboplatin. I have six treatments of those every three weeks. I also had to have Herceptin and Perjeta which targets the HER2 protein to keep it from producing. I have to remain on that every three weeks through June 2017. It’s not supposed to be as hard on your body as the chemo with the Taxotere and the Carboplatin. Then I must have six weeks of radiation. I went Friday for my CT planning for the radiation. It’s where they map out how strong the radiation beams are going to be to the area being treated. The chemo and radiation are just to prevent it (cancer) from coming back," Goodwin continued.
Born and raised in Cookeville, Goodwin resides in the Belk Community with her husband Roy. She is the mother of two boys, ages 19 and 17, and a 9 year old daughter. She is a registered nurse and has worked in home health care for almost nine years. “I started out as a CNA. I was an LPN for five years and did the LPN to RN bridge program and graduated from that in 2003”, said Goodwin.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Goodwin urges women to schedule a mammogram because, as she discovered, it could save your life. “When in doubt, check it out. If you do a self examination and you’re not sure what you’re feeling, tell your doctor and let him get an order for a mammogram. Get your mammogram. Don’t hesitate. The earlier you find it the less aggressive your treatment will be. When you hear the word cancer, a lot of patients begin planning their own funeral at first until they get further out from their diagnosis. It took me a couple of months to really let God have it all and know that He is in control. If you do get a diagnosis, don’t be afraid of the treatment processes. It’s hard but it is doable. With God all things are possible. You can overcome anything,” said Goodwin.