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Celebrating Survivors: Breast cancer battle has been a journey for Melanie Inabinet

October 9, 2018

Melanie Inabinet never worried about the possibility of developing breast cancer.

There was no history of the disease in her family.

“When I started gaining weight rapidly, I thought it was a thyroid issue, so I made an appointment with a doctor,” said Inabinet, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Aiken.

That proved to be the start of a nerve-racking medical journey that included Inabinet’s first ever experience with mammography.

At first, everyone told Inabinet not to worry after they found “something,” and she had to go through two rounds of the imaging process.

“A surgeon said it was probably nothing, just some calcifications, but he wanted to do a biopsy,” Inabinet remembered.

On April 17 of this year, she learned that there was cancer in her right breast.

“The surgeon walked in and he said, ‘Ms. Inabinet, I’m shocked,’ and my heart dropped,” Inabinet said. “He called it ‘microinvasion.’”

Inabinet decided to have both of her breasts surgically removed even though a lumpectomy was one of her options.

“I didn’t want take a chance,” Inabinet said.

She plans to undergo reconstructive surgery and hopes that will happen later this year.

“I’m blessed because, No. 1, I survived it, and I didn’t have to have chemotherapy,” Inabinet said. “No. 2, breast cancer opens your eyes to other things in life and what’s important. It’s not about your body and what it looks like in the end. It’s more about how you deal with it and moving on and living your life.”

In addition, Inabinet has more respect for others who have had breast cancer.

“It has made me appreciate everyone who has ever battled this disease, whether they’re still living or they have passed on,” Inabinet said. “I had a friend from high school, Angela Duncan Jennings, who died several years ago from breast cancer, and now I understand a lot more about what she went through.”

Inabinet has been writing about how she has coped with breast cancer and her recovery from it in a blog on her Facebook page. In addition, she has posted pictures there from a photo shoot that took place following her mastectomy.

In some of them, she is wearing pink Everlast boxing gloves and is holding them over the place on her chest where her breasts used to be.

“They are a way to document my journey,” said Inabinet of the photos. “Part of having breast cancer is being a fighter, and I decided to use the gloves to symbolize that.”

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