Mason says that although her prognosis was dire, she always knew she could be a part of the percentage who survived. After undergoing chemotherapy and a mastectomy, Mason is proud to say she has defied the odds and is a 15-year survivor. "This has really become my life," she says. "I feel blessed I can be a voice for the patients who haven't survived."
Because so many women have never heard of IBC, her goal is to spread awareness. Mason says very little information about IBC was available when she was first diagnosed in 1994. After her treatment began, Mason was researching online when she came across a support group for cancer patients. It was there that she met Owen Johnson, who started an all-volunteer organization called the Inflammatory Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Mason now serves as the executive director and works with physicians like Dr. Sledge who support the continued research of IBC.
Because she waited six months to see a surgeon after her first symptoms appeared, Mason knows she is lucky to be alive. She now wants every woman to be able to recognize the symptoms she once brushed off. "One of the most important things is knowing your own body," she says. "Pay attention to changes. It doesn't cost a thing to stand in front of the mirror."
And remember: You don't have to have a lump to have breast cancer.