Please share your story: : In March 2016 I went for my yearly gynecology visit. I was handed a mammogram script and told not to go until I turned 40 (which was going to be in a month and half) otherwise insurance would not pay for it. On April 7th I found a lump in my right breast and called my gynecologist the next day (I still do not know what made me feel my breast that day). I made an appointment at the breast center and everything from there happened so quickly. Mammogram, ultrasound, biopsy the next day. The following week I received the call on my cell phone at work that I had cancer. As they explained things over the phone and made appointments on my behalf I cried so hard I couldn't speak. I immediately left work and text my husband the news. We met with the team of doctors on April 29th, same day was my MRI and were told at that time it was stage 2 triple negative, 95% aggressive and I would have to get a port put in and start chemo right away. Genetic testing also showed that I carry the RAD51C gene mutation which is related to ovarian cancer. (I lost my mom to a 5.5 year battle with ovarian cancer 2.5 years ago). The gynecologist oncologist recommended I receive a hysterectomy, which I will be having once I recover from the breast cancer. My Port was placed May 11th, first AC treatment May 16th (4 of these every other week). AC was rough and I ended up in the hospital with a fever due to my white count being too high from the nuelasta shot. Im currently on weekly Taxol for 12 weeks with 7 left. Recent MRI showed both tumors have responded well to chemo. I will meet with the surgeon October 11th to discuss my options. I am not certain I agree with the initial suggested lumpectomy but I fear the pain and recovery of the double mastectomy. This is a very serious and difficult decision I will have to make.
How has your story shaped who you are today?: The fear is real! Whether newly diagnosed or receiving your last chemo or 2 years in remission, the fear never goes away for some of us. I watched my mother fight so hard with countless surgeries and non stop chemo treatments and side effects and hospital stays that I feared the worst when starting my treatment. Every day cancer is what I wake up to and fall asleep with and there is no escaping it. The fear of the cancer coming back after all this is over will always be inside me. I wonder if I will ever be able to escape cancer or this fear and live life happily and normal again. PTSD affects a lot of cancer patients and it has affected me. Cancer changed my mind and my body in so many ways.
What compelled you to share your story?: I want to let other women know they are not alone with their fears, it is real and it is normal to feel this way. Our spouses and loved ones will not understand what we are truly going through. Finding my support group for triple negative breast cancer has been such a blessing and has helped me so much.
What encouraging words would you give to someone who shares a similar story?: Fill in your eyebrows, put on a little blush, accent your eyes, don't worry about your missing hair. Enjoy the days or even hours that you feel good and always rest when you need it! Don't feel guilty about putting yourself and your needs first.