Breast cancer and Lyme disease: one woman’s message

cancer in lyme disease patient

Rarely, do we read about patients with cancer also suffering from Lyme disease. But many do. A courageous 46-year-old woman shares her heartbreaking story of battling terminal breast cancer. In the article, published by Glamour magazine, she describes her frustration with medicine and how her experiences as a Lyme disease patient affected her decisions in seeking medical help.

 

The woman, a mother to three boys, initially assumed a lump in her breast was due to Lyme disease. “Before I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I thought a lump I had found was part of my Lyme disease. I thought, ‘Okay, let me just watch this and see if it goes away over the next month’,” she tells Glamour reporter Jillian Kramer.

She explains that having cancer had never occurred to her and as a Lyme disease patient she had become accustomed to being judged and was worried about how medical professionals would view her complaints.

“I’d gone through a long bout with Lyme disease and had a lot of experience being blown off by doctors,” she says. “I had even gotten into the habit of blowing things off. I’d say, It’s probably nothing.

“I’d put it [breast lump] off for such a long time, thinking that people would think I was being silly.”

After her diagnosis of Stage IIIC breast cancer, the woman underwent chemotherapy, radiation, and a double mastectomy. Unfortunately, she relapsed a month after completing treatment and was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer.

She cautions others. “Even if you’re worried about being wrong, see a doctor.”

Editor’s Note: This courageous woman passed away in December of 2019 but her story is an important reminder to readers, particularly Lyme disease patients, to always follow-up with your doctor when a new symptom emerges. Do not assume a new symptom is Lyme-related, even when you’ve had a history of Lyme disease.

 

References:
  1. Kramer, Jillian.This Mom Has Terminal Breast Cancer, But She’s Still Fighting for Her Kids. Glamour magazine, October 31, 2019.
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5 Replies to "Breast cancer and Lyme disease: one woman's message"

  • Diane Kendall
    07/27/2021 (4:12 pm)
    Reply

    I got Lyme disease in October 2019 and when I had my blood tests the doctor said other than the Lyme disease I was healthy. By February 2020 I started having bad pains in my breast and over the next couple of months it became swollen. With no history of cancer and not being able to get a mammogram because of Covid I didn’t see a doctor until June 2020. I was then diagnosed with stage 4 Inflammatory Breast cancer with liver mets. I have always blamed the Lyme disease but my doctors barely acknowledge it

    • Dr. Daniel Cameron
      07/28/2021 (6:32 pm)
      Reply

      It is a shame the COVID-19 pandemic kept you from having the bad pain in your breast checked February 2020. I encourage my patients to check unexplained symptoms. I wrote the blog to encourage further research in this area.

  • Sher
    02/02/2021 (2:07 pm)
    Reply

    The same thing happened to me except it was lung cancer. Being a never smoker, doctors don’t consider cancer. The muscle pain that I was having was not from the Lyme but from the tumor growing. Unlike this lady, I DID go to doctors but told oh it’s acid or sleep apnea.

    • Dr. Daniel Cameron
      02/02/2021 (6:03 pm)
      Reply

      I advise my patients to see consultants for that reason, to rule out other illnesses.

  • Jaime
    01/30/2021 (9:37 pm)
    Reply

    I will leave a comment. God bless this family. I pray she passed pain free peacefully. I have had Lyme disease since childhood but did not know. Reared it’s horrible disease plus it’s coinfections with it 8 yrs ago. Needless to say I believe that I never have entered remission and meds only made me have seizures and other bad reactions. So, why am I writing this one because no one else wrote a nice note and two because I’ve had a lump in my breast for awhile. Have had full work up twice mammograms and ultrasounds spaced out. They say I have dense breast and it is hard to tell palpating and with technology. Thus I am told it is easier to miss feeling a lump therefore I have a higher risk. I’ve been twice now to GYN, she finally told me to see a breast surgeon if that will give me piece of mind. What do I do?? I feel like an idiot walking in with 2 CDs of my breast scans and they found “just dense breast” which could JUST increase the risk of breast cancer. Well how the heck do I monitor this? Everyday 🤦🏻‍♀️ I did not want to take the spotlight off this woman but want to encourage women not to wait! I’m going to go no matter how idiotic I feel. I’m 41. Not far from this young womans age. God bless your family! I can’t imagine the grief for everyone especially the adults! Much thanks to whomever posted this!


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