Debra Koziol discovered lumps at least three times before, beginning when she was 24. Each time, biopsies determined them to be benign. Every year, she had a mammogram, and she had begun having sonograms. In June 2011, six months after her annual mammogram, she noticed her left nipple had begun to change shape. A biopsy confirmed cancer, and her oncologist recommended a mastectomy.
Koziol had watched her sister Carolyn Gordy battle breast cancer five years before and seen how she still lived in fear of the cancer returning in her remaining breast. So, when doctors told Koziol she had three suspicious spots in her right breast, she told her surgeon to take it, too.
“I’m really glad I did,” she said.
Because her cancer has only a 10 percent chance of returning, her doctors did not think she needed chemotherapy or radiation. She said she felt blessed and thrilled.
Koziol called the experience “beautiful” because of the love and support of her friends and co-workers. As a single woman with no children, she did not expect the outpouring she received.
“Just people I didn’t know cared about me. People cooking for me, bringing me food,” she said.