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It took a misdiagnosis from a clinic, eight weeks and two ER visits before Melissa Boring, 45, of Naperville, finally found out what was wrong.
Waking up one day, Boring felt as if her breasts and armpits were swollen. “I just thought it was side effects due to my upcoming menstrual cycle,” she says.
When her cycle came and went, Boring realized her symptoms weren’t going away — they were getting worse. “The swelling on my left breast wasn’t going down. It kept getting bigger and bigger,” she says.
An unaffiliated clinic diagnosed Boring with mastitis, an infection of the breast tissue that results in breast pain, swelling and warmth, but the antibiotics they gave her didn’t help.
After months of back and forth, Boring visited Edward Hospital’s Emergency Room. “I was hot and miserable. My chest was red and it seemed to be getting hotter and redder. It was getting harder to breathe.”
Daryl Wilson, M.D., took one look at her chest, knew something was wrong and admitted her. That afternoon, she underwent numerous tests.
That’s when her first guardian angel stepped in. Beatrice Klade, M.D., general surgeon at Edward Hospital, knew at first glance it wasn’t an infection.
“It was clear to me that this was something more concerning, even though Melissa’s mammogram and ultrasound were both negative. Despite negative imaging, if there is still concern for cancer, I always recommend a biopsy,” says Dr. Klade.
The results came back the following day. Boring had inflammatory breast cancer.
Dr. Klade introduced Boring to her second guardian angel, Matthew Siegel, M.D., hematologist and oncologist at Edward Hospital. Dr. Siegel recommended she begin chemotherapy as soon as possible.
“It was a whirlwind,” she says. “I went from bone scan, to CAT scan, to MRI, to surgery for a port to be inserted for chemotherapy. It sounds crazy but I was one happy woman to get the cancer diagnosis. I finally knew what was wrong and I felt like I had found my angels.”
Fourteen days after the start of chemotherapy, Boring lost her hair. She went on to complete a year and a half of chemotherapy, then radiation. In February 2017, she underwent bilateral mastectomy.
“My attitude through this whole thing was that someone had it worse than I did — someone was going through a worse scenario than I was. I took it one day at a time.”
With no family history of cancer, Boring did not allow herself to feel down: “I had bone pain, from my knees to the bottom of my feet. It even hurt to stand. I went months without tasting anything. But I knew I still had a lot to live for.”
With a son about to graduate high school and head off to college, Boring knew she would get through her treatment for her family, but what helped her the most was having a supportive care team behind her.
“Everyone I encountered at Edward Hospital was fantastic,” she says. “The nurses in the Cancer Center were fantastic. The people in the lab were wonderful and my physicians were wonderful. I could not have asked for a better group of people,” she adds.
Now Boring sees a cardiologist to reverse the effects of chemotherapy on her heart. She also has a checkup with Dr. Siegel every three months.
“I’ve begun to contemplate my options for reconstruction with Lucio Pavone, M.D.,” she says. “It’s a big decision because my body is just starting to feel normal.”
Looking back on her treatment, Boring says she has a new appreciation for:
Boring says she feels like she has a second chance at things, and is thankful for her guardian angels at Edward. She wants to get back to working full time and donate her time to the Edward Cancer Center.
“I hope to volunteer and share my experiences with others. If there’s one thing I’ve learned it is to inform other women — make sure you get your yearly physical and checkups. If something doesn’t feel right, say something as soon as you notice it. You know your body better than anyone.”
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