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Laurel Co. woman battling rare breast cancer

Each month on WKYT we will introduce you to what we call a "Cancer Warrior."

The stories focus on those working to find a cure, those battling the disease or those that have won their battle.

For the month of November, a cancer many of us have never heard of, Inflammatory Breast Cancer.

IBC, it's rare and it's deadly and one Laurel County woman is fighting it daily.

At 45, Anita Wetter was enjoying life, going back to school to be a nurse and newly married.

Healthy and working out regularly, one day Anita noticed a change to her body and not in a good way.

"I had been working out at the gym and noticed one breast enlarging," said Anita Wetter.

A trip to the doctor last November found she might have an infection and she was put on antibiotics.

The antibiotics did not help and she met with a specialist who feared it might be Inflammatory Breast Cancer.

Tests confirmed it was IBC and as a nursing student Anita knew it was bad.

"The first thing finding it was Inflammatory Breast Cancer I knew right away it wasn't good."

Inflammatory Breast Cancer is very rare and aggressive, it accounts for less than 5% of all breast cancer cases.

"It is not like typical breast cancer in the fact that it typically does not form a lump or mass," said Dr. Ryan Sutherland, a surgeon with Saint Joseph-Mt. Sterling.

In fact Dr. Sutherland says many times its mis-diagnosed.

"It actually looks a lot like an infection and can often be confused with an infection there will be dimpling of the skin swelling of the skin," said Dr. Sutherland.

Anita is one of only about eight women in Kentucky with IBC, her's is stage four, the typical survival rate only five years.

Right now much is unknown about the cancer, surgery many times is not an option.

Anita is trying to get into a clinical trial at MD Anderson in Texas.

With one semester to go in becoming an LPN she says her fellow classmates have been part of her support through it all.

What's important now is fulfilling a dream.

" My thing is I want to walk across that stage and get my diploma," said Wetter.

In the meantime, Anita' message to other women is simple, don't ignore any changes.

" If its your body, you don't understand what's happening don't feel afraid to ask."

Symptoms and Warning Signs of Inflammatory Breast Cancer:

Rapid change in the appearance of one breast, over the course of days or weeks
Thickness, heaviness or visible enlargement of one breast
Discoloration, giving the breast a red, purple, pink or bruised appearance
Unusual warmth of the affected breast
Dimpling or ridges on the skin of the affected breast, similar to an orange peel
Itching
Tenderness, pain or aching
Enlarged lymph nodes under the arm, above the collarbone or below the collarbone
Flattening or turning inward of the nipple


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