"Real Housewives of New Jersey" star Amber Marchese is fighting a battle most women hope not to face once — for the second time.
Marchese was originally diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009, and she believed she'd overcome the disease shortly thereafter thanks to a bilateral mastectomy (removal of both breasts) and chemotherapy treatment.
But the 37-year-old got some bad news this April — the cancer had returned in the same right breast it had originally invaded.
"I was just sick to my stomach," Marchese recently told People Magazine regarding the second diagnosis. "I can't even begin to describe the feeling you get when someone says you have cancer. Then to get it again after you thought you fought it and thought it was behind you ..."
Indeed, whatever relief Marchese had experienced was dashed. Now she faces the unenviable task of waging a similar battle all over again.
"I thought, you remove it, you go through the harsh treatments, and you move on," Marchese explained. "So I was shocked. Everyone is shocked."
Because mastectomies don't remove 100 percent of the breast tissue, there's always a chance the cancer could return after the procedure. According to Marchese, however, that chance is very small.
"You have a double mastectomy and chemotherapy to stack all the odds in your favor so that there is no recurrence," she said. "The percentage of it recurring is very small, less than 5 percent. I just fell into that category. I wasn't so lucky."
Now it's time for another phase of treatment.
"I'm going to have an additional surgery to remove the remaining breast tissue with clean margins," Marchese said. "I'm going to be on radiation five days a week for five weeks. The doctor is putting me on five different drugs ..."
Marchese stressed that her situation is the exception and that double mastectomies are generally successful. To make sure she raises awareness while spreading an accurate message, she'll be blogging about her experience for People. Her first entry detailed her reaction to the most recent news and included some concrete recommendations for others experiencing similar circumstances.
"Each week, I will offer advice to readers that I found valuable on my journey," Marchese wrote. "Do whatever you choose with this. Some may find this helpful and some may not. But I want to offer some tips on how my family and I learned to manage the anxiety, complicated testing, treatments and how we explored treatment options while maintaining our sanity."
Marchese's first blog entry for People came out June 2.
According to BreastCancer.org, about 1 out of every 8 women in the US will develop invasive breast cancer during her lifetime.