St. Mary's County Times October 12, 2017 - Page 16

The County Times 16 Thursday, October 12, 2017 Bless ing Others Th rough Cancer Rose NIEMAN Those who know Rose Nieman always want her to cook her Asian dishes. This meal is for a family going through aggressive cancer treatment. By Corrin M. Howe Contributing Writer In June 2007, Lusby Resident Rose Nieman’s an- nual mammogram detected a “suspicious” spot. It would take two phone calls from her obstetrician’s office, four months before her second mammogram and another month before she would get a biopsy. “I wasn’t worried. I was young and healthy. I wouldn’t get cancer,” Nieman said. “Even after the biopsy results I still had no fear.” That changed when the results showed that she had ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). According to, “Ductal means that the cancer starts inside the milk ducts, carci- noma refers to any cancer that begins in the skin or other tissues (including breast tissue) that cover or line the internal organs, and in situ means “in its original place.” Nieman went to Dr. Sheldon Goldberg, for whom Calvert Memorial’s Center for Breast Care was named in 2012. He told her that she could choose between a lumpectomy or a mastectomy to remove the course cluster in her left breast. Before then, doctors didn’t usually give the patient the choice and automatically performed a mastectomy. Nieman received a sonogram prior to the sur- gery, where a pin is placed at the spot so that the surgeon knows where to find the cancer. This is im- portant because in Nieman’s case, the pin had moved prior to the sur- gery and the surgeons found two more spots that had gone undetected in the mammogram. “It was God’s grace. If they had not removed it, it would’ve contin- ued developing.” Since Dr. Goldberg’s wife had died from cancer, he recommend- ed that Nieman receive aggressive treatment for her form of cancer and sent her to a radiotherapist. “Now it was real for me. Jeff (her husband) came with me, but I didn’t hear anything that they were say- ing to me. I was overwhelmed, de- pressed and had fear,” said Nieman. She asked her husband to make the decisions for her. Her husband said that they were going to fight, which meant that she would receive 35 treatments of radiation over a seven-week period. Recently she showed off to her friends a pinprick sized tattoo on her hand. “They (the radiothera- pist) had to make sure that my body would accept a tattoo first. Then they marked the three spots for tar- geted radiation.” Nieman said it would be several weeks into her radiation therapy before she started researching her cancer and the treatment she was receiving. “I went back to the radiologist since I saw this could cause other cancers.” In the end, she decid- ed the advantages out- weighed the disadvan- tages and continued. “The wait to receive the radiation was lon- ger than the treatment,” Nieman said. “You lay down on a long table. They roll you in. You hear ‘beep, beep, beep” and then you’re out.” She knew to expect burns on her breast from the radiation, but she didn’t expect it would be a couple of weeks before her skin started feeling burned. During this time, she couldn’t use lotion. Her breast was very tender and she couldn’t wear her regular bar. Six years later, she says she sometimes feels the same burning sensation she received. Nine years after the treatment, she said she wished that she hadn’t done the radiation and just taken tamoxifen. This prescription “slows or stops the growth of the tumor by preventing the can- cer cells from getting the hormones they need to grow,” according to the Susan G. Komen website. Shortly after the treatment, she started having pain in her hip, which she believes is a side-effect of the radiation. “I felt I didn’t deserve pain in the hip for nine years. I don’t remember a day with no pain since.” Six months after the radiation stopped, she felt like she was still dragging her legs around. Al- though tamoxifen is known for its side effect of interfering with the menstrual cycle, Nieman felt her pain was related to the medication. She and her oncologist stopped the prescription at four years, instead of the recommended five years. Nieman felt that her pain improved then. The lumpectomy did leave indentations in her breast and reconstruction was an option. Nieman decided against it because she wanted to heal. She does feel self-conscious and does have a hard time making her breast level and smooth. Despite the ongoing pain, Nieman shared ways her brush with breast cancer has been a blessing to her. This past summer she met some of her biological siblings when she returned to Malaysia to visit her adopted family. “Without breast cancer, I never would’ve reached out to my biological family. I reached out to my biological sister to see if breast cancer runs in the family. No immediate family have cancer. No breast cancer.” Rose Nieman is always helping people. Here she stops to fi x Eleanor Bremer’s hair.