Dina Davis

In July of 2012, my life was not as I had planned. I was living at a Fort Bend area women’s shelter. I was a victim of domestic violence from my now ex-boyfriend. Because of my life at the time, I had not had my yearly mammogram for five years.
I spent from May to July of 2012 getting four mammograms and two ultrasounds through Ben Taub Hospital. While I was visiting family in Maryland, I received a call from the hospital, telling me I needed to come back to get a biopsy. I was very scared, especially since I had no job or insurance at the time. The biopsy diagnosed me with HER 2+, Stage III breast cancer in July, 2012. According to mayoclinic.org, the diagnosis of HER2+ breast cancer is a cancer that “tests positive for a protein called human epidermal growth factor receptor 2, which promotes the growth of cancer cells. In about 1 out of every 5 breast cancers, the cancer cells make an excess of HER2 due to a gene mutation…. This is a gene mutation that occurs only in the cancer cells and is not a type of mutation that you can inherit from a parent.”
Thank God, my mom, who lives in Houston, works at MD Anderson, so I knew it was the best place for me and that’s where I wanted to get my treatment. A social worker at Ben Taub signed me up for Medicaid and told me it would be at least 30 days before I would know if I was approved or not. Well, I love computers, so I decided one day to go online to see what the status was. When I went online, I saw I had a case number, so I call the Texas Health and Human Services myself. When I called, they told me I had just been approved and gave me my Medicaid ID number. I then called MD Anderson to get the process moving. I went to MD Anderson and they scheduled me for their own mammogram and ultrasound. After they completed the tests, they told me they wanted to do a biopsy on a lymph node. That told me the cancer had spread to my lymph node.
Now, my case was in the hands of my doctors, oncologist Kimberly Koenig, MD, anesthesiologist Martin Wagner, MD, plastic surgeon Melissa Crosby, MD, and radiation oncologist Eric Strom, MD; I would need a mastectomy, followed by six months of the chemotherapy drugs Taxol, Herceptin and FEC. FEC is a combination of three chemo drugs, 5 fluorouracil (5FU), epirubicin and cyclophosphamide.
Now, after my mastectomy, I am now taking chemotherapy once a week for twelve weeks with one drug regiment, then I will be on another type of chemo regiment once every three weeks for four weeks.
This has been a shocking few months but I am keeping positive through it all. I am suffering from heart problems and other effects from the chemo. I am experiencing PVCs (premature ventricular contractions), a recognized side effect of the Herceptin. While undergoing my chemo, I had to have a cardiac ablation to destroy the small area of my heart that was creating my heart rhythm problems.
During my chemo, I am staying with my mother until I am able to work.  I am close to being back to a shelter and trusting God. I really now want my reconstructive dflap surgery to finally say this cancer process is done. That will happen in the future. My appearance bothers me, but the scars remind me I made it.
In the meantime, I will help other women when I can because I know God has a plan for me. My friend, cancer survivor Rosemary Herron helped me through the tough times with her great support. She also put me in touch with Emma and her foundation.
So I will fight and help others—I am still standing and fighting like a Girl!
(Editor—You can read about Rosemary Herron and her volunteer work to help those with breast cancer in Sugar Land at http://www.yourhoustonnews.com/sugar_land/news/sugar-land-cancer-survivor-helps-others-going-through-it/article_e3984133-dd8d-5c40-902d-f89ce351457e.html.)