Ida’s Story as told by Katie Hildreth
Ida Goeckel is a bass player from Western New York and founder of the Annual Female Musicians Fighting Breast Cancer Benefit. She is a perfect example of how being proactive can save your life, and possibly, even prevent losing your breast unnecessarily.
In 2003, Ida was diagnosed with Ductal Carcinoma in Situ (DCIS), at which the earliest stage is considered to be as Stage 0 breast cancer.
Some might agree that serendipity also played a part in Ida’s early diagnosis, increasing her chances of beating the disease. Because Ida’s birth mother had developed breast cancer later in life and had undergone a mastectomy, she had always been proactive about getting yearly screenings. She had made an appointment for her regular mammogram in February of 2003 and was forced to cancel it. Unfortunately, you usually have to schedule these appointments 6 months in advance, so she couldn’t get in again until July. It was during that appointment, that they saw an irregularity in the mammogram and recommended a biopsy. Had Ida gone to the original appointment, the mass may have been too small to detect and would have then had another year to grow before her next regular screening. Because of the location of the mass in her chest wall cavity, it also wouldn’t have been detected on a self-exam.
The biopsy confirmed that she did, indeed, have DCIS breast cancer and a lumpectomy was performed, removing a five-centimeter mass from her breast. When they tested the mass, two forms of cancer were actually found. There are many schools of thought in the medical community of dealing with a breast cancer diagnosis. Some doctors take a more radical approach hoping to prevent the cancer from spreading. Ida’s doctor informed her that she should have a mastectomy, just to be safe. Now, any woman is not going to take this news lightly and my very outspoken friend, Ida, didn’t either. She informed the doctor that if he was willing to cut off his left (well, ummmm, let’s just say, “highly valued piece of male anatomy”), then she would go ahead and cut off her left breast! He may not have appreciated her humorous approach, but he got the message that she wasn’t going to just take his recommendation without question. He told Ida that she had about one month to decide whether to go through with the mastectomy. After another consultation, this time with a reconstructive surgeon, Ida decided this was too major of a decision to make without more information. She made an appointment at Roswell Park to get a second opinion. They did a follow up mammogram to assess the results of her lumpectomy and told her that a mastectomy was not necessary. They recommended an 8-week course of radiation as a precautionary measure. Ida took their recommendation and completed the radiation. She continued to have regular screenings, remaining cancer-free for 9 years.
While undergoing radiation treatments, Ida had read an article in Bass Player Magazine, about a woman named Janelle Ramirez in Austin, Texas who was hosting these music benefits called, Bass Babes Battling Breast Cancer. Being a bass player herself, Ida contacted her to talk about collaborating and possibly expanding the benefits across the country. Because of scheduling conflicts, they weren’t able to work together immediately, so Ida decided to establish her own event so that she could start right away.
The First Annual Female Musicians Fighting Breast Cancer took place at Nietszche’s, about a month before Ida had even finished her radiation treatments. Being a bass player herself, Ida decided that the event would highlight bands featuring female musicians, and that she wanted the funds raised to not be put towards more research, but towards the more immediate goal of helping women like herself make more informed choices about their health.
100% of all proceeds benefit Roswell Park Breast Care Clinic & WNY Breast Cancer Resource Center in Buffalo, NY. The Multidisciplinary Breast Cancer Center at Roswell Park, provides comprehensive, individualized care to patients with premalignant and malignant breast disease. Dissemination of information and resources, counseling and emotional support are essential components of this program. Please come out and support this benefit and help Roswell Park continue to give women all of the best options for fighting breast cancer.
Ida’s Second Chapter
After her initial diagnosis in 2003, and then remaining cancer free for 9 years, Ida found herself once again revisited by the form of breast cancer known as Ductal Carcinoma in Situ (DCIS) in the Spring 2012. This time it occurs in her right breast. And again, it is detected early. The news is, of course, initially unexpected and emotionally charged, but after a few days of allowing herself to wallow with her feelings, she bounces back with determination. With her “been there, done that, what else you got?” attitude, Ida undergoes another lumpectomy in April, then a re-section to get clear margins in May, and begins her 7 weeks of daily radiation in mid-July. Not exactly how she planned her summer, nonetheless, confident that she was, once again, in the good hands of the competent staff at Roswell Park Breast Care Clinic and the Radiology Department.
You can listen to Ida tell her inspiring, informative, and sometimes humorous, story on the MEDIA page.
2013 and Beyond…
Having survived 2 bouts of DCIS breast cancer before the age of 55, with a close relative who also had had breast cancer, and being of Ashkanazi Jewish heritage, Ida’s breast surgeon at Roswell Park’s Breast Care Clinic urged her to consider genetic testing to look for signs of the BRCA 1 & 2 gene mutation that is present in breast cancers which occur through heredity. These mutations greatly increase a person’s chances not only for breast cancer, but, as Ida later learns, also have a strong correlation for an increased chance of ovarian cancer. (Reference: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/BRCA ).
Ida was initially reluctant to go through this process, but eventually conceded to entertain at least a consultation appointment with the Genetic Department at Roswell in 2013 in order to make her decision. The initial meeting with the genetic consultant convinced Ida that this simple, yet costly, blood work would not only satisfy her need for answers, it would also benefit the younger generations of her family. (Without health insurance, this procedure would be unaffordable to many). One small vial and a few weeks later, Ida went to get the results of the testing. It tested positive. These results came on the heels of the widely publicized BRCA 1 positive results revealed by Angelina Jolie and her subsequent decision to have a double mastectomy and her ovaries removed. Needless to say, Ida’s first reaction, when asked what her course of action would be, is that she emphatically stated that she’s “not going all Angelina Jolie.” Since there still is little data regarding the occurrence of a third primary breast cancer and because Ida considered herself “evenly toasted” from her radiation therapies on both breasts, she had no inkling to have them surgically removed. She did become a candidate for not only mammography every 6 months, but also annual MRI screenings. After having her first MRI, she concluded that they are highly over-rated and uncomfortable. In lieu of MRI’s, Ida now has alternating breast ultrasounds and mammograms every 56 months.
The BRCA-1 mutation also caused the focus by her providers to her ovaries. The genetic counselor, the breast surgeon, and a subsequent consultation with the Gynecology Oncologist all recommended having her ovaries removed, even after the transvaginal ultrasounds every 6 months of her ovaries shows nothing abnormal. Still vehemently against preventative invasive surgery, just as she has been when her first breast surgeon recommended a mastectomy, Ida contemplated long and hard on this prospect, knowing that Ovarian Cancer symptoms come insidiously and deadly. Tired of the often uncomfortable and irritating transvaginal ultrasounds from 2013-2016, and also learning that the BRCA-1 mutation can also increase her chances of Uterine Cancer and Cervical Cancer, Ida came to the decision In April 2016 to have a full hysterectomy and bilateral oophorectomy. She has no regrets. This also partially stopped the nagging of her providers at Roswell, although they continue to “offer the option for a mastectomy”. Again, Ida’s active and vocal participation in her treatment plan has been a key component in developing a cooperative rapport with the providers at Roswell, who do listen and respect her decisions.
If interested in making a donation to the cause or participating in the next event, please visit the contact page to send Ida a message.