FRISCO (CBSDFW.COM) – If Erin Struck had her way, the last ten months of her life would have been spent playing with her 3-year-old son. Instead, this 39-year-old mother is fighting a disease that she thought she was too young to face.
The Frisco mom learned the painful truth last year that she had breast cancer. “I was not of the age to have a mammogram yet,” Struck said. “Something on the TV flashed to make me do a self-check.”
That self-check revealed a lump. She underwent both a mammogram and a sonogram the following day, but was told that what she had felt was just fibrous breast tissue. “They had the ultrasound right on the tumor,” said Struck. “The radiologist said, ‘see you in a year for your next mammogram.’”
Her OB-GYN, however, recommended that Struck see a breast surgeon just to safe. The surgeon then recommended a biopsy. When the results came back, Struck was told she had stage two, grade three breast cancer.
She quickly discovered that grade three is the most aggressive type of breast cancer. “My surgeon said, ‘because you’re so young, we want to go ahead and treat this aggressively since this is so aggressive’. So we opted to do a double mastectomy last August,” Struck told us.
Her double mastectomy was followed by six rounds of chemotherapy and six weeks of radiation. Since the cancer is hormone fed, it responds well to Herceptin treatment, which she will have to undergo every three weeks until August.
Struck says the hardest part was explaining to her toddler why she had to shave off her hair. “He knows that mommy was sick and the doctors were helping mommy feel better,” she said.
The aggressive treatments appear to have made an impact. Struck says she’s feeling better and has started running again. She won’t, however, be able to run in this weekend’s North Texas Race for the Cure. Struck is having reconstructive surgery the day before.
The Frisco mother is the second of four sisters and the first in her family to develop breast cancer. She says she struggled initially, wondering, “why me?” That feeling, however, didn’t last long. “Once my oncologist said she’s going to get me through this and I’m going to come out on the other side, I knew there was hope and that I would I would just have to fight,” Struck said.
It’s a fight she intends to win.