Melissa Deutsch: From Bridgerton to Breast Cancer

by | Jun 14, 2022 | News

Over the past few years, everyone was talking about all the great series that I should watch on multiple streaming services, yet I never found the time to watch any of them. I finally got to sit down and watch some Netflix, specifically, the guilty pleasure of Bridgerton which portrays the ‘social season’ of British society. We are currently in the ‘social season’ of lighting which began with LEDucation. We have the NYC Lumen Awards this week where SDA Lighting & Controls will be in force. Immediately after the Lumens, Lightfair will take place in Vegas.

What got me to sit still and binge the series? The answer is breast cancer. I was diagnosed in February and went in for lumpectomy. Unfortunately, my pathology came back with some complications and after several more consultations, I went back in May for a bilateral mastectomy. Thankfully my pathology is now perfect. All lymph nodes were clear. I am cancer free or for those who have been through a cancer journey, I am NED (no evidence of disease).

My entire team was aware of what was going on and not only did they respect my privacy and not spread this news, but also, they pulled together and continued to prosper. So now that this is very recently in the rearview mirror, I am comfortable to talk about it for two reasons. One to thank the entire SDA Lighting & Controls team for respecting my wishes and for doing what needed to get done. They covered for meetings that I could not attend and pushed themselves just a bit harder, so as not to raise any concern.

The other reason that I felt it is important to come forward and tell my story is that I may be able to help others within the lighting community. This can happen to anyone, at any time. I was extremely fortunate and caught it very early, making it a few difficult months with a perfectly healthy future versus a lifetime of treatments and managing the disease. How did I catch it early? I did not feel a lump because there was none. It was picked up on my regular mammogram which was exactly one year and one day later than my completely clean prior exam.

For all the working women, especially the moms, I know that we always put ourselves last. While I would never let my kids miss a dental cleaning or even a grooming for my dog, somehow there never seemed to be time to get all my prophylactic exams. However, I was always fastidious about booking my mammogram. I do not have a first degree relative with breast cancer. I am BRCA negative. I do all the things that they say helps to reduce the risk, including exercising, not drinking alcohol and so on. And yet, I am now one of the statistics. The statistics are quite scary as 1 in 8 women ( will develop invasive breast cancer over their lifetime. The key is to try to catch it before it is invasive and the best way to do that is by prioritizing your mammogram. Schedule it from year to year and do not let yourself be late.

Early diagnosis is key to a very positive outcome. I am eternally grateful that I went for my mammogram exactly on time. For the women reading this, I hope that you are making a note in your phone right now to schedule your mammogram. For the men who are reading this, if you have a wife, daughter, sister, mother, or partner who is late for her mammogram, encourage them to get it done. Although far less common, men can get breast cancer too. So, if you feel any sort of lump, do not assume that “is it nothing.” Go and have it checked out.

There is no one treatment course with breast cancer and a lot of the decisions fall back to the patient. It is a lot to learn and a lot to navigate. The lessons that I learned from others’ experiences helped me choose my path. For anyone who will have to go through this unfortunate journey of navigating breast cancer, I am happy to speak with you to relay my experience. I will try to support you or just be there to listen. So, I will not be at the Lumens this week and am sitting out the spring social season. But rest assured, I will be ready for the fall season and for the SDA Lighting Showcase on October 18-19 which coincidentally coincides with Breast Cancer Awareness Month.