, Salem, MA

Fighting breast cancer

October 16, 2012

From the mouths of survivors

Meet Tara Mullen

Tara Mullen, 38, is a married mom of two daughters, ages 8 and 5. She was diagnosed at age 35 for “ductal carcinoma in situ” after her doctors found a cyst in her breast. Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) is a noninvasive breast cancer with abnormal cells contained in the milk ducts. “In situ” means “in place” because the cells have not left the milk ducts to invade nearby breast tissue.

“Due to my family history of breast cancer, they were keeping an eye on it and I was getting an ultrasound every six months,” she says.

A few months later, the fluid-filled cyst turned into a solid mass. “I didn’t hear anything after the doctor told me that I had breast cancer,” Mullen says.

The doctors performed a lumpectomy, and a few months later, more cysts were found. “They weren’t in the lymph nodes, thankfully, but I opted for a double mastectomy in May 2012,” she says.

Mullen went through radiation treatment and a chemotherapy shot in her stomach every three months. “I never had a choice to stop going and never had time to really think about it,” Mullen says. “I broke down at the end of radiation when it all hit me at once and my radiation oncologist said, ‘I was waiting for that.’”

“I worked in the oncology department, so when I heard the news, my first thought was, ‘What stage is it? Did it metastasize?’” she says. “I thought about my kids, they were small and I didn’t know whether it had spread or not. And all of the surgery was a pain.”

Mullen says she couldn’t care less that she lost her breasts. “I just wanted them off me,” she says. “I didn’t want to have to worry about it anymore. You can get them reconstructed. There are more important things than breasts. What I hated was the fact that I couldn’t care for myself and all of a sudden I was shut down completely with drains in me.”

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Fighting breast cancer
Local News

Local News
  • Driscoll Gordon College flap nets local LGBT group $12K

    SALEM -- The conservative uproar over Mayor Kim Driscoll's decision to terminate Gordon College's contract to operate Old Town Hall has turned into a cash cow for a local group supporting gay and lesbian youths.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo 4 Stories

  • 140725_SN_DLE_HOUSE4 Middleton builder rescues First Period house in Danvers from demolition

    DANVERS -- Built before 1730, the First Period Benjamin Holten home at 52 Centre St. was a tear down that did not get torn down, the builder who preserved and restored the house said. "They had holes in the roof this big," said builder Michael Panzer

    July 26, 2014 5 Photos

  • Tisei Tisei's political funds seek to balance Republican, LGBT loyalties BOSTON -- As Republican Richard Tisei makes a second run for Congress, he has teamed up with other GOP challengers across the country to broaden his support. Earlier this year, he created a joint fundraising committee, the Equality Leadership Fund, w

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Market Basket board to consider Arthur T.'s offer BOSTON -- Market Basket's board of directors announced Friday that it will consider offers to buy the company -- including one from ousted CEO Arthur T. Demoulas. His offer will be considered "along with any other offers previously received and to be

    July 26, 2014

  • Police Peabody Thursday A woman went to the police department at 3:13 p.m. on a report of money owed for Girl Scout cookies. Noel Gabriel, 27, of 92 Marianna St., Lynn, was arrested from Lake Street around 5:51 p.m. on charges of driving without a license

    July 26, 2014