Chris and Mandy Neely were married in 2005 and have since lived in Macon County. Chris moved in 2003 from Hendersonville, the couple met on New Year’s Eve in 2004 and were married in July 2005. A few years later the couple expanded their family with a daughter, then a son.
In 2015 Chris was diagnosed with testicular cancer. He had 21 treatments in 9 weeks. Mandy said, “He never really got sick, he was just really weak.” The family overcame Chris’s bout with cancer.
Mandy went to have her yearly check up on January 6, 2016 which she had postponed from the previous month due to Chris’s treatments. A lump was discovered in Mandy’s left breast during her examination. “I feel like if I had gone in December, 2015 like I was supposed to, they might not have found it.” After having an ultrasound and a mammogram, she went to see Dr. Hollis, a general surgeon at Sumner Regional Medical Center, and he recommended for her to have a biopsy.
The biopsy was performed on February 3, 2016, and the diagnosis was cancer: Ductal carcinoma in situ. DCIS is the most common type of non-invasive breast cancer. Ductal means that the cancer starts inside the milk ducts, carcinoma refers to any cancer that begins in the skin or other tissues (including breast tissue) that cover or line the internal organs, and in situ means “in its original place.” DCIS is called “non-invasive” because it hasn’t spread beyond the milk duct into any normal surrounding breast tissue.
Mandy was given the option of having a lumpectomy or having a mastectomy. She said, “I was scared to death. I was a 31 year old mother of two small children and my husband had just gone through chemo. My husband and I talked it over and decided, with the information we were given, that the better choice for us was to go on with the bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction.” She then met with a plastic surgeon, Dr. Tarola. He informed her that this was not going to be a quick fix and it was a lengthy ordeal.
The bilateral mastectomy was performed on March 8th and expanders were placed in at that time for the reconstruction process. Eight lymph nodes were also removed from her left armpit. The final diagnosis was DCIS stage 1 breast cancer. Mandy said, “My heart sank. We had had enough cancer. I then met with my oncologist, Dr. Shipley, and she suggested we not do chemo or radiation. The surgery had got all of the cancer. We were thrilled.”
Now came the reconstruction. “I had to go every week to have my expanders filled to stretch the skin. It was painful. My doctor was wonderful,” Mandy stated. She had the expanding performed for one month and one week, and then had to wait for the skin to stretch and stay that way. She had her implant surgery on June 20th. She recalls, “Everything looked great until my incision popped back open on my right side. I had to go back in for emergency surgery on July 13th. Everything since then has been normal. We have had to get back to a normal routine and life. My next surgery will be on November 10 to finish the reconstruction process.
Mandy said, “The kids, 8-year-old Chloe and 5-year-old Colby, really helped out a lot right after my first surgery, I couldn’t do anything for 2-3 weeks. I have been very blessed with wonderful family and friends, great surgeons, doctors, nurses who took great care of me and my family. We are looking forward to 2017 being a year of less doctors and hospitals and no cancer!”
According to the American Cancer Society, about 60,000 cases of DCIS are diagnosed in the United States each year, accounting for about 1 out of every 5 new breast cancer cases.
Reach Kelly Rich at 615-666-2440.