When Jennifer Cordts spotted a rash on her breast in early 2015, she didn't think much of it. But what she assumed was a simple bra irritation turned out to be something much more deadly: breast cancer.
It's understandable that the 46-year-old never saw it coming, especially as doctors were continually convinced that nothing was wrong. When she first spotted the pink and red rash on her breast, it didn't have any lumps, but she decided to visit a doctor anyway. He reassured her that simple antibiotics could cure her skin inflammation.
"He just kind of said, 'I don't see what you see,' recalled Cordts. "And I was like, 'If you aren't worried, then I'm not either.'"
In the following weeks, Cordts knew something was terribly off when she began experiencing a searing pain in her breast that shot down her arm. Despite the discomfort, after she underwent a mammogram, her blood tests came back fine.
For 11 months, she tried everything to get rid of the rash, even switching out her bra when her gynecologist suggested that it could be the cause of the rash. Still, nothing seemed to be helping.
Fed up with her fruitless efforts, Cordts Googled her discolored skin and discovered that it could be a sign of inflammatory breast cancer. And, finally, after seeking out a specialist, her MRI scan returned the results she had been dreading: stage 4 inflammatory breast cancer. By this time, the cancer had spread to her bones and liver, putting Cordts' life expectancy at three to five more years.
Although devastated by her diagnosis, the mother-of-two is now using her story to help others detect this deadly disease before it's too late.
"I'd live longer if they had caught it earlier, but that isn't my journey," she told the DailyMail.co.uk. "But it can be the next person's journey. Going to the doctor is scary. Going to the doctor with what you think is cancer is terrifying. I'm teaching [people] to advocate for themselves and push harder for answers."
Cordts also revealed that her original doctor was informed of the misdiagnosis and encouraged to learn more about rare types of cancer—including her own, which makes up about one percent of all cancer cases.
Currently, Cordts has seen improvement in her cancer after undergoing a mastectomy, as well as chemotherapy and radiation. These treatments won't cure the disease, but they will stop it from spreading and give her more time to live.
Our thoughts and prayers are with Cordts during this difficult time. If you suspect you may have inflammatory breast cancer, see a doctor immediately.
Common signs of inflammatory breast cancer include:
having an orange-peel texture
the appearance of hives, bruises, or discoloration
swelling of the lymph nodes
flattening or inversion of the nipple
aching or burning
Check out these surprising cancer facts.