The Real Housewives of New Jersey star told People that her doctor called her with the news on April 23. “I was just sick to my stomach,” shared Amber. “I can’t even begin to describe the feeling you get when someone says you have cancer. Then to get it again after you thought you fought it and thought it was behind you. I was thinking, ‘This is definitely it. I’m going to die.'”
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April 3: Amber discovered a new lump in her breast. “I reached my arms over my head and touched my right breast and felt it. It was hard. It was pea-sized. And I just knew. My heart just sank. I said, ‘Jim, I just found another lump.’ It was right by the site of the other tumors. I just knew in my heart that this was serious, and Jim did too.”
April 6: Amber saw her oncologist. “He said, ‘The odds of it being anything are so small. But I do want you to have it removed. I want a biopsy and a PET-CT scan right away.’ This scared me because he did not say, ‘I’m sure it’s nothing.'”
April 13: She underwent a PET-CT scan.
April 20: Amber had surgery to remove/biopsy the mass.
April 23: Amber learned she has breast cancer again. “On April 23, my surgeon called. I was making dinner for my kids. He said, ‘Well, I wish I had good news for you, but it’s not. It’s cancer.'”
Amber was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009. She opted to have a bilateral mastectomy despite her left breast being cancer-free. Amber (as well as myself) has since learned that a double mastectomy doesn’t guarantee the cancer won’t return, as it’s impossible to remove all the breast tissue.
“I thought, you remove it, you go through the harsh treatments, and you move on. I was shocked. Everyone is shocked,” said Amber. “You have a double mastectomy and chemotherapy to stack all the odds in your favor so that there is no recurrence. The percentage of it recurring is very small, less than five percent. I just fell into that category. I wasn’t so lucky.”
Amber stressed that recurrence is not common. “My case is not the average case. I don’t ever want to deter women from getting a mastectomy. I don’t want women to say, ‘Well, she had a mastectomy. What’s the point of getting a mastectomy if it doesn’t work?’ That is a very dangerous message to get out. I hear it all the time. ‘You got a double mastectomy. How did it not work?’ My case is not the norm. Do what’s right for you.”
About her current battle, Amber said her oncologist is “hopeful” and she will undergo an MRI of her brain and chest to make sure the cancer hasn’t spread. “I’m going to have an additional surgery to remove the remaining breast tissue with clean margins. I’m going to be on radiation five days a week for five weeks. The doctor is putting me on five different drugs, including Herceptin.”
Amber said she must push forward for her kids, adding, “My children can’t see worry on my face. They can’t see me skip a beat. They still need me. Jim and I will go to the gym, then we’ll go have radiation, come home, and have lunch and have a good day. That will be our new normal for a while – we will adapt, improvise, and overcome. You just have to go on with everyday life.
“I always say, it’s not a matter of if something is going to happen, it’s a matter of how we handle it,” preached Amber. “I feel at peace. I feel determined. I feel like everything is going to be okay.” Our thoughts go out to Amber and her family.
Photo Credit: Ivan Nikolov/WENN.com