It Saved My Life: Fiorella’s Story
Having worked several years as a medical assistant in an OB/GYN’s office, Fiorella Reginell-Mirabito understood the importance of mammography testing. Even with that knowledge, she admits to putting off her own yearly exam. She finally had a check up in the Fall of 2010, a Thursday test followed by an urgent phone call on Monday when the doctor told her, “You need a biopsy.” The mammogram revealed micro calcifications needing further investigation.
By February 2011, “Fi” as she is affectionately known in the community, was undergoing a four-hour bilateral mastectomy for noninvasive Ductal Carcinoma in Situ (DCIS) with immediate breast reconstruction. According to the Mayo Clinic, DCIS is considered the earliest form of breast cancer. Fi chose the double mastectomy as a preventative measure because she learned that DCIS increases the risk of invasive breast cancer later on. She didn’t require chemotherapy or radiation, and at the time felt fortunate that it went so well. “I was lucky. I believe the mammo saved my life,” she said.
“Through it all, I found myself reading like a mad person,” says Fi, who is now Mayor of Bath and co-manages a restaurant with her husband called My Place Pizza Restaurant in Bath Borough. “I read anything about cancer that I could get my hands on.” However, she confesses it’s not always wise to believe everything you read, especially on the Internet. “Of course it’s sensible to do some homework on your own, but learn to trust the advice of your caregivers, and heed the firsthand information they impart.”
Fi was also identified as ER and PR positive. Some breast cancers require estrogen to continue growing and can be identified by the presence of estrogen receptors (ER+) and progesterone receptors (PR+). These cancers are usually treated with drugs that either block the receptors or alternatively block the production of estrogen.
Although the mastectomy and implant reconstruction is behind her, Fi has endured additional surgeries to manage scar tissue and lymphatic fluid issues around the affected breast. “Sometimes the pain is unbearable,” says Fi. “I’d never go through reconstruction again. But I have a strong faith system, a wonderfully supportive husband, a positive attitude, and a sustaining system of family and friends. Without them, I’d be in pieces!”
“That’s why a place like the Cancer Support Community is so important,” Fi adds passionately. “Even with family to turn to, it’s so helpful to be able to share experiences and benefit from programs that focus on improving your health.”
Mayor Fiorella has launched a breast cancer awareness campaign in her Bath community throughout the month of October.