Nursing Student Battles Rare Breast Cancer With a Smile

Young mother says her choice to fight inflammatory breast cancer is easy

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    A nursing student says she is not giving up in her fight against a rare from of breast cancer.

    If you are lucky enough to meet Jenn Huie as she makes rounds in the emergency room at Texas Health Southwest, you will likely catch her with an enormous smile.

    Mom With Rare Breast Cancer Still All Smiles

    [DFW] Mom With Rare Breast Cancer Still All Smiles
    A nursing student says she is not giving up in her fight against a rare from of breast cancer. (Published Thursday, Oct. 21, 2010)

    "They call me 'Smiley,'" she said.

    Huie is fighting inflammatory breast cancer. The aggressive cancer accounts for less than 5 percent of all breast cancers and typically targets younger women.

    "My mom was diagnosed with premenopausal breast cancer at 35 and it turns out she had inflammatory breast cancer, which is what I have, and she passed within nine months of her diagnosis," she said.

    Oncologists say mammograms can miss the cancer. Patients usually don't have a lump, but a rash.

    "It's actually considered a medical emergency, and it needs to be diagnosed within weeks, as opposed to months," said Dr. Cristi Aitelli at Texas Health Southwest.

    Huie is stage four and undergoing chemotherapy -- all while working in the ER and taking nursing classes.

    Her boss, Chris Lane, chokes up when he talks about Huie. He said she is an inspiration to the entire staff.

    "I don't try to think about it," he said. "She's come so far, and she's beat so many predictions and beat the odds so many times, and if that is how it goes, then I'll count myself lucky for having known her every single day."

    Huie, the mother of two boys, said her younger son doesn't quite understand her illness.

    "He just understands Mommy is sick, but he doesn't understand the magnitude of what's going on," she said. "He just knows that mommy is sick, and I get special medicine."

    Huie said her choice to fight every day is easy.

    "The human compassion in people gives me inspiration," she said. "To not even know me and to reach out with open arms is just amazing."

    She said truly living is a choice -- and so is smiling.

    "If I'm not going to fight for it, who will?" she said. "That's what I do. It's not going to beat me."

    Huie is speaking at a free seminar about inflammatory breast cancer on Oct. 23. Reservations are required, and seating is limited. People can reserve a spot by calling 1-877-847-9355.

    The seminar is:
    10 a.m.-noon Saturday, Oct. 23
    Community Education Building at Texas Health Southwest
    6270 John Ryan Drive
    Fort Worth, Texas 76132