PANAMA CITY BEACH- Those who have it say inflammatory breast cancer is the breast cancer nobody wants to talk about. IBC is the most aggressive form, but it's also rare, accounting for between one and five percent of breast cancer cases. After being diagnosed with the disease two years ago, a Panama City Beach woman is determined to raise awareness about IBC. She says it's absolutely crucial women know what to look for, because this form of the disease is often misdiagnosed.
"You do live each day... knowing." Gaynell Ash is one of "The Other 5%." She is one of a small percentage of women fighting breast cancer who are diagnosed with the rare, most aggressive form: inflammatory breast cancer. "Normally IBC does not present with a lump, but I did feel one and immediately went and had it checked out. It was actually 2 years ago today that I felt the lump."
Gaynell had never even heard of IBC before her diagnosis. Now she wants all women to know what to look for. "It presents with redness, swelling of the breast, itching and pain. Most people think breast cancer doesn't hurt, but it can. You could be told its a cat scratch or a bug bite. Delayed diagnosis is not good. You need to act fast with IBC, you will be OK if you act fast, time is of the essence."
IBC is more like cotton candy, web-like. It doesn't show up on a mammogram like a lump would. So by the time it's found it's stage 3 or 4. "Prognosis is, within the first 5 years 60 percent will not make it," said Gaynell.
Gaynell has a large team of supporters behind her for the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk this Saturday. "We are going to try to promote awareness about IBC and get the word out there. So many are misdiagnosed by their doctors as having a rash, or they are given antibiotics and there is no time, it can appear overnight."
Gaynell's sense of humor and determined spirit are helping her defy the odds. "I see other ladies who are 6 and 8 years out and I want to be that too. My son is a senior at Arnold (high school) and honestly two years ago I didn't think I would see him as a senior. Now I know I'm not going anywhere anytime soon. I am going to do what I can to get the word out, to help others. There is hope, there is always hope."
Gaynell says if there is anyone else in our viewing area with the disease, she would love to connect with them. She'll be walking with her team "The Other 5%" during the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk at Aaron Bessant Park Saturday. Gaynell says she's drawn a lot of support and encouragement from members of the IBCNetwork.org. Click on the link provided for more information.
NewsChannel 7 will also have a team walking Saturday, we'd love to see you there! Registration begins at 7, walk festivities at 8.