Jamie Collins

Jamie's Story is Way Too Common May 9, 2024

Jamie comes to us from Arizona, having found us on the internet. We are grateful to Jamie for sharing her all too common story of a delayed diagnosis due to breast density.

Jamie’s story is a glimpse of what is to come as we will be sharing more stories like Jamie’s over the next year. Stay tuned!


My Story Matters

By Jamie Collins

Everyone remembers where he/she/they were when the news came. Much of my dismay centered on the fact that I had to wait five long, anguishing days after the punishing biopsy for the phone call.

It came. “Well, it’s cancer”, my doctor said, delivering the news with all the bravado of a lead balloon. Her level tone droned on as my mind spun into panic mode tinged with an out-of-body flight to somewhere in the stratosphere.

After that, I did not hear the rest of her words. I just sat there, stunned. Spiraling inside while fighting every second, to keep my composure.

(“The Beautiful Warrior’s Manifesto—Navigating the Path to Survival”, Warrior Wisdom Essays, Substack, 2024).

Shock and confusion overwhelmed me. After all, I had been meticulous with my health and submitted to my annual mammograms without fail since I was forty. I had never missed one. And then, as I was about to approach my 57th birthday, I was preparing for surgery and the most arduous ordeal of my life.

The surgery confirmed the diagnosis four months later, resulting in the loss of my left breast and twenty-two lymph nodes. The 3 cm tumor extracted told a chilling reality—my cancer had been growing for at least 4-5 years.

It was stage III (ER+, PR+, HER2-, Grade 2) invasive ductal breast cancer. Follow up treatment included a grueling year and a half of chemotherapy and radiation.

It did not take long for me to question how could this have happened? My mind reeled with replayed scenarios of at least two “call backs” five and three years earlier for a suspicious abnormality of my left breast, only to be assuaged with more mammogram imaging after which being given the all-clear to resume my life.

I had been aware of my dense breast tissue from my early thirties and believed that my former and current OBGYN had all matters covered when treating me.

But instead, my doctor prescribed HRT for my premenopausal symptoms that I had been taking for three years. I had believed whole-heartedly that she had my best interests in mind when she examined me each year (including a manual breast exam) and sent me on my way without so much as a word or discussion about my unique risk factors.

With the most severe consequences, she neglected to mention the importance of or voice concern about the disease of my dense breast tissue. Not only did she fail to mention the availability of alternate modalities, but she also neglected to highlight their necessity in ensuring the certainty of assessing my breast health in a way that was as thorough as possible.

She failed me. And she continues to fail every woman under her care and practice.

This gross misdiagnosis is all too common. It is one, however, that could be reduced with education, resources, and legislation that will advocate for women who, like me, put their trust in the wrong hands, instead of our own.

Women can reduce this tragedy by telling their stories and rallying others to see the need for more transparency and informed discussions that can enact change.

Self-advocacy is the surest way to remain diligent in the face of this fast-growing disease that takes one in eight of our own. Our mothers and sisters; our daughters and our friends. Over half of women today have dense breast tissue—half.

The apathy and greed of a rapacious medical system that is all too happy to fix you when you break, is only met and fueled by this reality.

And this perhaps is the worst tragedy of all.