Last year, the online magazine Madame Noire featured 5-Time Breast Cancer Survivor Mollie Diggs in an exclusive interview, where the nearly 70-year old Cancer fighting phenomenon explained why Second Opinions are so crucial for Cancer patients, and spoke about what gave her a nudge to seek them for her treatment journey.

This is a Cancer survivor story, based on facts first published on Madame Noire.

First Brush with Cancer

In 2001, when she was first diagnosed, Mollie Diggs was just 49 years old. During a routine self-exam, she found a lump in one of her breasts, and when she went to see a doctor about it, hoping it was a cyst, they informed her that it was a tumor. In the interview, she has explained that she has fibrocystic breasts - little cysts which can be benign, but in her case, a biopsy revealed it to be Stage-1 Breast Cancer.

Initial Treatment

2001

Right after her Stage-1 diagnosis, Mollie went through 10 weeks of Radiation Therapy, and was advised to undergo Hormone Therapy for the next five years.

The Hormone Therapy used a drug called Tamoxifen, and Mollie had to get 15 lymph nodes removed from her left arm. The therapy worked for her, and she went into remission. Post this, she returned to her lifestyle, to her family and continued to be on the lookout for lumps via self-exams.

Relapses (2006-2016)

Mollie had multiple instances of Cancer relapsing - something that sets her story apart. Through the journey, she has also developed a unique set of insights about the kind of attitude that Cancer patients must maintain and the kind of optimism that one needs to battle Cancer effectively.

Stage 2 & Mastectomy

Mollie's Cancer first relapsed in 2006, a litte more aggressive than the first time around. The disease had progressed to Stage 2, and she had to undergo a mastectomy to get her left breast removed, followed by Breast Reconstructive Surgery. She recalls having had a painful time, with a 10-hour surgery followed by intesive care for more than 48 hours. She was released five days after the surgery and post that, she prayed and waited.

Chemotherapy Treatment For Recurrence

Mollie's Cancer returned again in 2009, after a brief three-year remission. This time around, the doctors advised her to undergo Chemotherapy, as she had already undergone surgery in the past to remove the primary tumors. She lost a lot of weight and most of her hair, but kept fighting. She had promised to see it through the end of the tunnel.

At this point, she recalls having asked her doctors why her Cancer kept recurring, and receiving no solid answer in return.

"It’s hard to say because there’s no cause for cancer. There is a gene (BRCA), but I don’t carry the gene. I have a daughter and I wanted to make sure she would be okay. It’s something I can’t explain. In the beginning I almost asked God why, but then I stopped and didn’t question him. There’s a reason for everything, and I realized I wasn’t going to give cancer control. I was just going to beat it."

- Mollie Diggs, 5-Time Cancer Survivor

Source:Madame Noire

2015, and a Great Second Opinion

After the fourth and fifth instance of recurrence, followed by rigorous Chemotherapy sessions and follow-up scans, Mollie remembers what gave her a nudge to seek a Second Opinion. She was watching TV - it was 4 AM in the morning, and an infomercial that spoke about the benefits of seeking a qualified Second Opinion for Cancer caught her attention.

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She fondly recalls how she had to get her Corporate Insurance Provider changed just so that she could afford the new treatment advice at the time. Post this, she ended up on a new, evolved treatment path.

After The Second Opinion

By this time, the new doctors had advised Mollie to get screened for the HER-2 receptor. Dr Denis Citrin (a Senior Oncologist who was now reviewing Mollie's case) believed that there was an easier, less-invasive way to treat Mollie once the test results were available.

"Knowledge is power. I knew nothing about the disease. There are so many different types of breast cancer out there. When you say you’re diagnosed with breast cancer I think it’s important to find out what kind of breast cancer you have. Know how you’re going to be treated, and what they’re going to treat you with. Make sure that’s the best course of treatment for you because we don’t all have the same type of breast cancer. The type I have is aggressive, and sometimes it comes back aggressive, but I was blessed this time..."
- Mollie Diggs, 5-Time Cancer Survivor

Source:Madame Noire

Evolution In Treatment & New Results


Mollie's results came back HER2-positive, and her doctors confirmed that it was easier to treat. Dr Citrin put her on new medication that had very recently received an FDA approval, and her treatment began soon after.

Her treatment began on a Friday, when she went in with a 4.5 inch tumor. By Monday, that lump had started reducing in size. The treatment continues to work for her, and she maintains that there are no side effects at all.

On the Subject of Second Opinions

Mollie's course of treatment and ultimately her lifestyle, changed completely due to the second opinion that she sought in 2015. She continued working after the new round of treatments, and retired in December 2017. In one of her latest follow-up scans, she was given a green signal that she was in remission.

In the interview with Madame Noire, Mollie said something very powerful, that patients with a long history of Cancer should definitely know and keep in mind.

"One thing you should know, is cancer doesn’t have to be a death sentence. You can die from something else quicker than you can die from cancer. We shouldn’t be afraid. We should turn that fear into faith, and take care of ourselves. Anything that doesn’t feel right - check it out. If you’re not happy with that, go to another doctor."

- Mollie Diggs, 5-Time Cancer Survivor

Source:Madame Noire

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Mollie Diggs 5-Time Breast Cancer Survivor