Her Freckles Turned Out to Be a Sign of Breast Cancer
Rebecca Hockaday didn’t think much of the dark spot on her breast that she found five years ago. After all, the now-39-year-old had been spending a bunch of time outside, so she was convinced it was just a freckle. But then, she saw more pop up, and she could never imagine what the dermatologist was about to tell her.
She had a rare, but extremely aggressive, form of breast cancer called inflammatory breast cancer. And the so-called “freckles” were actually the places where the cancer had spread to her skin and her lymphatic system. It wasn’t long before her breasts got redder and started to change texture—like an “orange peel,” as she put it.
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Inflammatory breast cancer only accounts for 1 to 5 percent of all breast cancers diagnosed in the United States, but it also spreads rapidly—sometimes within months or even weeks.
So it’s important to brush up on inflammatory breast cancer symptoms to be on the lookout for, such as rapid change in the appearance of a breast, discoloration that gives the breast a red, purple, pink or bruised appearance, and dimpling or ridges on the skin that gives it an “orange peel” texture.
It’s important to note that these symptoms may be caused by another condition, so it’s always best to check with your doctor as soon as possible after noticing something may be amiss.
Fortunately, in Hockaday’s case, she was treated by an oncologist and underwent chemotherapy, a double mastectomy, and radiation. And 10 months later, her cancer was gone. But she still needs to get an injection every month to make sure it stays gone. Now, she has a message to send to women who notice anything “off” about their own bodies.
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“We get busy with our lives and careers, and we don’t take care of ourselves like we should,” Hockaday said. “It’s important that women pay attention to their bodies and put their bodies first.”
NEXT: See celebrities who are cancer survivors in the photos below.
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Edie Falco: Breast cancer, 2004 Falco kept her treatment a secret from her Sopranos co-stars. “Surviving cancer has a way of making you re-prioritize," she's said. In her case, it meant starting a family.
Kathy Bates: Ovarian cancer, 2003; breast cancer, 2012 The actress kept her cancer a secret but after her double mastectomy, she told People magazine: "Breast cancer runs like a river through my family.
Fran Drescher: Uterine cancer, 2000 It took two years and eight doctors before the Nanny star was finally diagnosed. After the experience, she wrote a book and started a cancer foundation.
Rod Stewart: Thyroid cancer, 2000 The rock icon got lucky when his cancer was discovered during a routine scan. He lost his voice for three weeks, and now sings an octave lower than he used to.
Carly Simon: Breast cancer, 1997 After a lumpectomy and chemotherapy, the singer told the New York Daily News she was "stronger than ever. I've always thought of myself as a warrior."
Sheryl Crow: Breast cancer, 2006 The singer, then 44, had just broken up with Lance Armstrong when doctors discovered a tumor. After treatment, she adopted two boys.
Sharon Osbourne: Colon cancer, 2002 The reality TV star had one foot of her colon removed. After discovering she carried the gene for breast cancer, she had a double mastectomy.
Hugh Jackman: Skin cancer, 2013, 2016 Jackman was filming X Men when a makeup artist pointed to a red mark on his nose. It turned out to be basal cell carcinoma. He now gets skin checks every three months.
Robert De Niro
Robert De Niro: Prostate cancer, 2003 De Niro, then 60, credited his complete recovery to early detection.
Christina Applegate: Breast cancer, 2008 The actress was only 36, but she had the BRCA gene mutation--her mom was a breast cancer survivor. She opted for a double mastectomy.
Michael C Hall
Michael C. Hall: Hodgkin's lymphoma, 2010 Hall used a break during Dexter to go through treatment. Getting a Golden Globe two-thirds through it gave him a "shock of positive energy."