Rebecca's Breast Cancer Journey
- Rebecca Crews received a stage one breast cancer diagnosis in 2020 following a mammogram and ultrasound. Today, she is cancer-free after a double mastectomy.
- Crews, who credits a mammogram screening for saving her life, previously told SurvivorNet she is "grateful to be alive" and encourages other women to get checked, because "detection saves lives.”
- Stage one breast cancers are relatively small; they either have not spread to the lymph nodes or only a small area of cancer has spread to the sentinel lymph node.
- Treatment will likely be surgery and radiation following surgery, along with chemotherapy or some other therapy. For women whose breast cancer is hormone receptor positive doctors will also recommend hormone therapy. For HER2 positive cancers the drug Herceptin will be recommended.
The 56-year-old actress and singer was diagnosed with stage one breast cancer in 2020 following a mammogram and ultrasound. She then had a double mastectomy in March.Read More
Hey Family, remember, you are more powerful than you give yourself credit for. You've dealt with everything that life has thrown your way, so the next time you feel as if you haven't accomplished much, remember all the battles you've fought and won. ðŸ’ªðŸ˜˜ #SelfReminder pic.twitter.com/3HRkpqUbV8
— Rebecca King Crews (@rebeccakcrews) November 9, 2022
Alongside her inspirational words was a photo of another uplifting statement.
“Remind yourself of what you’ve been able to overcome. All the times you felt like you weren’t going to make it through, you proved yourself wrong. You’re more powerful than you think,” the motivational quote read.
In addition to Crews’ optimistic outlook on life, she also had a loving partner who supported her throughout her cancer fight.
In a previous interview with SurvivorNet, Crews and her husband, Terry, talked about how their relationship grew even stronger amid her cancer battle and they faced fear together.
"My wife and I have been through a lot of things," Terry told SurvivorNet. "We've lost homes; we've lost children before things that would have taken a lot of people out and we survived them all. I looked at it like an opportunity. This is what love is. When you look at the marriage vows it's not when everything's great. This is where the rubber meets the road."
Previously, in an exclusive column for SurvivorNet, Crews opened up about the importance of getting checked for cancer and following your gut feeling.
“The science behind intuition isn't entirely clear. The religious will tell you that God is speaking and that all who will listen will benefit. If you are not religious, it is called following your gut. I prefer to believe since I am an intelligent being, that someone or something much more intelligent and evolved than me came before me and is my progenitor,” she explained. “Thus, following this inward knowing, or still small voice, has resulted for me, in many miraculous and unexplainable coincidences. And I am thankful.
“Take a shot and ask yourself, ‘what harm could come from trying?’ The next time you have an intuition that you are tempted to ignore, try following it as long as it is safe and not just some whim or fancy or the result of too much alcohol, or not enough sleep,” Crews added.
Treatment For Stage 1 Breast Cancer
We may not know all the details about Crews’ cancer battle, however, we do know that she was diagnosed with stage one breast cancer and successfully treated for the disease.
Stage one breast cancers are relatively small; they either have not spread to the lymph nodes or only a small area of cancer has spread to the sentinel lymph node.
Treatment will likely be surgery and radiation following surgery, along with chemotherapy or some other therapy. For women whose breast cancer is hormone receptor positive doctors will also recommend hormone therapy. For HER2 positive cancers the drug Herceptin will be recommended.
In Crews’ case, she underwent a double mastectomy for treatment two weeks after her diagnosis.
Women who have a family history of breast cancer, or have received a breast cancer diagnosis, they might choose to undergo a mastectomy for treatment. This is a procedure that surgically removes the entire breast, and while considering a mastectomy, women should weigh factors such as family history and the size of the tumor.
"Even for early stage one breast cancer, a woman may elect a mastectomy to remove her whole breast," Dr. Elizabeth Comen, a medical oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, tells SurvivorNet. "Sometimes, this is something that's done prophylactically, meaning a woman just has a high risk of breast cancer in their family, snd so to prevent breast cancer, they're thinking about removing their breasts."
The Importance of Breast Cancer Screening
Screening for breast cancer is typically done via mammogram, which looks for lumps in the breast tissue and signs of cancer. The American Cancer Society (ACS) says women should begin yearly mammogram screening for breast cancer at age 45 if they are at average risk for breast cancer. The ACS also says those aged 40-44 have the option to start screening with a mammogram every year, and women age 55 and older can switch to a mammogram every other year, or they can choose to continue yearly mammograms.
For screening purposes, a woman is considered to be at average risk if she doesn't have a personal history of breast cancer, a strong family history of breast cancer, a genetic mutation known to increase risk of breast cancer such as a BRCA gene mutation or a medical history including chest radiation therapy before the age of 30. Beyond genetics, family history and experience with radiation therapy, experiencing menstruation at an early age (before 12) or having dense breasts can also put you into a high-risk category. If you are at a higher risk for developing breast cancer, you should begin screening earlier.
In a previous interview with SurvivorNet, Dr. Connie Lehman, chief of the Breast Imaging Division at Massachusetts General Hospital, said people who hadn't reached menopause yet should prioritize getting a mammogram every year.
"We know that cancers grow more rapidly in our younger patients, and having that annual mammogram can be lifesaving," Dr. Lehman said. "After menopause, it may be perfectly acceptable to reduce that frequency to every two years. But what I'm most concerned about is the women who haven't been in for a mammogram for two, three or four years, those women that have never had a mammogram. We all agree regular screening mammography saves lives."
It's also important to be on top of self-breast exams. If you ever feel a lump in your breast, you should be vigilant and speak with your doctor right away. Voicing your concerns as soon as you have them can lead to earlier cancer detection which, in turn, can lead to better outcomes.
Symptoms of Breast Cancer
Screening for breast cancer is typically done via mammogram, which looks for lumps in the breast tissue and signs of cancer. The American Cancer Society (ACS) says women should begin yearly mammogram screening for breast cancer at age 45 if they are at average risk for breast cancer. The ACS also says those aged 40-44 have the option to start screening with a mammogram every year, and women age 55 and older can switch to a mammogram every other year, or they can choose to continue yearly mammograms. It's also important to be on top of self breast exams.
Signs and symptoms of breast cancer may include:
- A breast lump or thickening that feels different from the surrounding tissue
- Change in the size, shape or appearance of a breast
- Changes to the skin over the breast, such as dimpling
- A newly inverted nipple
- Peeling, scaling, crusting or flaking of the pigmented area of skin surrounding the nipple (areola) or breast skin
- Redness or pitting of the skin over your breast, like the skin of an orange
It's important to keep an eye out for these symptoms while remembering that having one or many of them does not necessarily mean you have breast cancer. Regardless, you should always speak with a doctor promptly if anything ever feels off or you're experiencing one or more of the signs listed above. You never know when speaking up about your health can lead to a very important diagnosis.
Contributing: SurvivorNet Staff