Breast Cancer Patient “Football May Have Saved My Life”

A 40-year-old breast cancer patient was persuaded to perform a self-exam while watching an NFL game that promoted Breast Cancer Awareness.

She’s always been an avid football fan. And now, at the age of 40, Nicole Biberstine is an even bigger fan.

She was sitting in her living room on a typical fall day last October, taking in an NFL game. She doesn’t remember who was dominating on the field, but she does remember the overall color on the screen – pink.

“It sounds so cliché but I was just watching the game and seeing all the pink ribbons and promotion for breast cancer awareness when I decided I should do a self-exam,” said Biberstine. She felt a lump at the top of her left breast but thought it might have been a result of breast feeding her youngest, a son, who just turned two. She also has a daughter, five.

Biberstine met her husband Mike, a former Marian County prosecutor, after she was rear-ended by a drunk driver. She made a few court appearances and the two began dating months later. They have been married for eight years.

Before she became a stay-at-home mom, Biberstine worked in fundraising for Make-a-Wish and Zeta Tau Alpha Sorority. As part of the sorority’s philanthropic efforts, Biberstine helped pass out pink ribbons at the Colts games.

“It’s all come full circle – kind of like a bad Lifetime movie,” said Biberstine, a patient of Dr. Bryan Schneider. Until she found the lump, Biberstine had not had a mammogram because she said she wasn’t yet 40 and – the youngest of six children –  there had been no family history. She was diagnosed at Stage 3C.

“I was completely in shock. I went by myself for a mammogram and ultra sound because I honestly thought it was a blocked milk duct,” said Biberstine. She has undergone chemotherapy, a double mastectomy, reconstruction and radiation.

“I have Her2+ breast cancer so it’s aggressive but responds well to the chemotherapy. If I were to give a message to other women it would be to be your own advocate,” said Biberstine. “It’s never too early to start checking your own body and listen to your own body signs. No one else will do it for you. Even though you can get immune and annoyed by the pink in October it serves a purpose and I’m an example of it. If I hadn’t done an exam and waited for a mammogram what would it be like 6-9 months down the road?”

— By T.J. Banes, Associate Senior Journalist at IU Health.
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