One day, while reading the newspaper, Julie Streeter felt her skin itch. When she scratched it, she felt a lump the size of a peanut M&M. A biopsy showed the lump to be malignant.
Streeter had a lumpectomy and six rounds of chemotherapy and had just started radiation when she found out she had tested positive for the BRCA2 gene, which meant her chances for a recurrence and risk for other cancers were much higher. Within a few months, she had a double mastectomy and a hysterectomy. Since then, she has had 11 surgeries, including ones to repair failed tissue extenders for implants.
“I’ve just had some pretty crappy luck,” Streeter said.
She has gotten through it by staying positive.
“I’ve always been pretty optimistic,” she said. “I don’t like staying home all the time. I just made myself get up and go to work. I planned all my chemos around my job.”
She handles the bookkeeping for six companies, and she found support dealing with breast cancer through groups at University Hospital. She also leaned on friends and family.
Streeter now volunteers for the American Cancer Society, offering encouragement and talking about her own experiences to comfort patients who are undergoing treatment.