COVID-19 vaccine symptoms leads Waukee woman to discover breast cancer

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Jennifer Moseley acquired the COVID-19 vaccine to guard herself from one illness. She ended up saving herself from one other.

The Waukee grandmother remembers precisely when she obtained the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine: 4:30 p.m., Tuesday, April 20 — she had needed to get the shot earlier than visiting her daughter, Madie Kornberg, and her grandson, Sam, in Jacksonville for his birthday later that week.

The day after her shot, she got here down with the flu-like signs which might be generally reported as signs of the vaccine.

The subsequent day, she felt 100% higher, she stated, besides a lymph node in her left arm had turn out to be swollen. It was the identical arm the place she’d acquired the shot, although, so she did not suppose a lot of it.

Jen Moseley (heart) stands along with her kids and their spouses. From left, Scott Kornberg, Madie Kornberg, Jen Moseley, Maria Moreno, and Paxton Moreno. Moseley’s boxer, Dr. Indiana Jones, sits in entrance of Moseley. (Picture: Jen Moseley)

About two days later, nevertheless — the evening of her grandson’s birthday — the lymph node was nonetheless tender.

Swollen lymph nodes could be a symptom of the COVID-19 vaccine as they capture abnormal cells and can react to the fluid in the vaccine, said Dr. Ingrid Lizarraga, a clinical associate professor of surgery at the University of Iowa Hospital. But lymph nodes are also an area of the body doctors check for signs of cancer.

With a history of breast cancer in her family, Moseley was well aware of that fact. Two of her aunts and two cousins have had breast cancer; one of her cousins died from the disease in 2018 when she was just 38.

The swollen node served as a reminder that she hadn’t performed a breast exam in a while, so she conducted one that night just in case.

She found a lump.

It was the size of a flattened grape in her right breast, she said. She’s had cysts before, so, again, she wasn’t immediately worried. She talked with Kornberg and decided she would set up an appointment for an exam when she returned to Iowa.

From the time she returned, Moseley’s life changed quickly.

More: How to sign up for the Polk County COVID vaccine lottery for a chance to win $50,000

‘OK, we’re doing this. This is happening’

Her initial appointment at the Iowa Clinic’s Women’s Center was scheduled for April 28. But uncertainty over her health and her future was compounded when she was laid off from her job two days later.

Now without reliable health insurance, she had a mammogram scheduled for a week later. She could see the lump, she said, during the test.

Jen Moseley enjoys being outdoors, taking trips with her friends, hiking, biking and hunting. She visited Glacier National Park with a group of friends in August 2020. (Photo: Jen Moseley)

“Mammograms are uncomfortable, but this time it hurt and it hurt pretty bad,” she said. “That’s kind of when I knew.”

Her doctor sought to confirm her fears five days later when she had a biopsy. Her doctor called with the results on May 13: She’d been diagnosed with Stage 2A invasive lobular carcinoma breast cancer — the same type of cancer that had killed her cousin.

“She called me and said I have breast cancer,” Kornberg said. “And I was, like, ‘OK, we’re doing this. This is happening.”https://www.desmoinesregister.com/”

More: Will the chance to win $50,000 persuade the vaccine hesitant in Polk County to get the COVID-19 shot?

Lizarraga, at the University of Iowa, said Moseley’s type of cancer makes up only about 10% of breast cancer cases. She said Moseley’s swollen lymph node was likely not connected to her cancer, but a relatively common reaction to the vaccine.

“(It was) connected only in so far as it was maybe a happy coincidence that the swelling of the lymph nodes prompted her to check her breast and helped her find her cancer,” she said.

Lizarraga said swelling in the lymph nodes connected to the COVID-19 vaccines can persist for weeks. Moseley said when she went in for her exam, health care professionals asked her if she’d been vaccinated recently, saying others had come in with similar concerns.

‘The COVID-19 shot … saved me’

Moseley had scheduled a routine mammogram in July. If she hadn’t been vaccinated in April, which likely caused her swollen lymph node and prompted her self-examination, the cancer might have grown before it was found.

“The COVID-19 shot, I’m gonna say — as much as COVID sucked — it saved me,” she said.

Moseley, who rode her bike 18 miles two days before she underwent a double mastectomy and breast reconstruction, now appears the picture of health. She’s not in any pain, she said, and her doctor told her that she’s likely to recover faster than other people would because of her activity levels.

Jen Moseley holds her grandson, Sam. Moseley was diagnosed with invasive lobular carcinoma, a form of breast cancer, shortly after receiving her second COVID-19 vaccine. (Photo: Madie Kornberg)

She’s still human, though, and two days before her surgery, she was nervous. Her doctors weren’t sure how far the cancer had spread, which would determine whether she would undergo chemotherapy.

“I’m concerned about chemo and what that can do and what that looks like, but I’m, like, ‘One day at a time,”https://www.desmoinesregister.com/” she said. “We’re going to find out what needs to be done and we’ll worry about that after surgery.”

More than 1,000 miles away, in Jacksonville, 30-year-old Kornberg said she felt helpless. Her mother’s friends gave her the idea to set up a GoFundMe to assist with her mom’s mortgage and medical expenses. The fund has raised almost $17,000 so far.

More: State no longer lets Iowans view own vaccination records online, after concerns that employers might peek

“Typing out the story was almost therapeutic in a way,” she said. “I’m not there, I can’t help her and this is … probably one of the only ways I’m actually able to help.”

Moseley said the fund will cover her mortgage while she is unable to work and her out-of-pocket expenses. Kornberg also set up a meal train for her mom, and Moseley planned to have friends and family stay with her while she recovers.

Moseley went through surgery in mid-June, and Kornberg said her mother was recovering well from the five-hour ordeal. She said doctors believed they were able to remove all of the cancer, and the family was hopeful that Moseley won’t have to undergo chemotherapy.

Moseley knows to conduct regular breast exams because of her family history. If she hadn’t, she may not have found her cancer before it progressed further.

“Everyone should be aware that they need to examine their breasts more often,” she said.

Sarah LeBlanc covers the western suburbs for the Register. Reach her at 515-284-8161 or sleblanc@registermedia.com. Follower her on Twitter at @sarahkayleblanc

Learn or Share this story: https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/information/well being/2021/06/21/pfizer-covid-19-vaccine-symptoms-point-iowa-woman-to-breast-cancer-waukee-iowa/7731361002/





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