Click For Hope

breast cancer

Climbing the Mountain called Cancer

Cancer, ClickforhopeJasmine LopezComment

Please share your story: : It started early in the summer of 2016. I was breastfeeding my daughter, Savanna and I started to have some redness and hardness in my breast. She completely refused to go anywhere near that breast, so I knew something was off. Following my husbands request, I went to the doctor. I was diagnosed with mastitis. I was given antibiotics and was sent on my way. This went on for a couple of months. Nothing was making it better, if anything, it was getting worse. My doctor then sent me to a surgeon-thinking there was a blockage or something that might need to be taken care of. After a couple weeks under his care, and a negative ultrasound, he said, "it should be better by now, we need to do a biopsy." In this middle of all of this craziness, I did a bit of research. I came across something called Inflammatory Breast Cancer. I fell to the floor as I told my husband about it, everything that was written on it, just fit how I was feeling and my symptoms. It was Monday, September 19 when I was at work, anxiously waiting for the call from the doctor about the biopsy results. I looked at my TimeHop for the day, and realized that 2 years ago on that date, we found out I was pregnant-after a year of trying. When I realized this, I knew the news wasn't going to be good. I felt like this was a sign from God that He sent me this baby girl to help me through what was about to happen in my life. I wanted the news to be good, but deep down, I just knew it wasn't. Then I got the call that confirmed it, "I'm sorry, it's not good news, it's cancer." I immediately called my husband hysterical, called my mom and left work to go be with my daughter and husband. The next couple of weeks were filled with appointments and scans, and they all seem to be a blur. It was the most absolute terrifying weeks of my life. My instincts were right, I was diagnosed with Inflammatory Breast Cancer. Anyone that searches this online knows that there is nothing good about it. The stats aren't good, the prognosis isn't good, it's just not good. Every time I talked to a doctor, the first thing I would say is, I just wanna watch my baby grow up. That's all I thought about and still is. I started chemo a couple weeks after the day of diagnosis. Chemo sucks. I have really great friends and family that helped with so much during this time. I didn't feel good enough or have the energy to do some everyday tasks and they all were there for me helping. The one constant is that fiery little red head of mine. No matter how I felt, no matter how much I wanted to stay in bed all day, I had to get up and take care of her. People couldn't be with me everyday and I didn't want them to be. Savanna kept me going, I call her my little life saver. I will never be able to explain to her what she did for me. I also dramatically changed my lifestyle. From the food I ate to the products I was putting on my body. I tried to have as little stress in my life that I could. I finished chemo on January 18 and was so relieved for that chapter to be over. After the 2 chemo sessions, I really saw changes in my breast, by the end, my doctor couldn't tell that anything was ever there. It was back to 'normal', but it still had to go. I had surgery on March 1, a double mastectomy with lymph node removal and I chose not to get reconstruction. I'm so grateful to say that the cancer treatment worked. I had a PET scan before surgery that came back clear, and the pathology report from surgery came back with a complete pathological response. Hallelujah! I still have to do radiation as part of the IBC treatment protocol. I am prepping to start that next month. I have learned so much through this and I feel like I'm a different person than I was 6 months ago. I have a new outlook on life. I hate cancer, but I love what it did for me and my life. I will continue to live as healthy of a lifestyle that I can so I can do what I can to prevent this from ever coming back. Take that cancer!

How has your story shaped who you are today?: I'm a different person. I physically don't recognize the woman in the mirror, bald and boobless, but I really don't recognize WHO I am. I don't want to be the same person I was before cancer, I want to be better. When faced with your own mortality, you think very deeply about life. I appreciate everyone in my life so much more now. I'm so grateful to be alive and I never want to take advantage of being so ever again. I want to live life to the fullest. And I will.

What compelled you to share your story with us?: I was at the Beautiful event last weekend and was so inspired with all the women there to support one another. It's incredible what we can do if we all just work together and be there for one another.

What encouraging words would you give to someone who shares a similar story?: You got this! Don't doubt yourself, ever. You can do this and you will do this. It's ok to be scared, cancer is a large mountain to climb but you can do it! And you ARE beautiful, even when you don't feel so.

Hope 25's Beautiful Event

Cancer, Clickforhope, Pop-up ShopJasmine LopezComment
clickforhope | chicago breast cancer survivor_1031.jpg

It was such an honor getting to be a part of Hope 25's Beautiful Event. Not only was it CLICK FOR HOPE's first pop-up shop where we raised money for Breast Cancer Awareness, but we are able to photograph 12 survivors! Aren't they beautiful?!?  I'll be sharing some of their stories over the next few days. It was such a blast getting to do a mini shoot of each of them!!!

And here's a little sneak peek at our new Spring Collection! I can't wait to share more with you!!!

When Cancer hits home (Part 2)

Cancer, Clickforhope, FamilyJasmine Lopez2 Comments
clickforhope_breastcancershoot-38.jpg

My journey with cancer begins in January of 2015 with a small red spot in the center of my chest.  I remember first seeing it after taking a shower.  Although odd I didn’t think much of it; I was young at only 35, a very active father of two children and considered myself to be in good health.  I thought little of it and went on with my busy life.  Over the next 4 months’ new spots started appearing and as the spots got larger I could feel lumps under the spots.  I was also losing weight and not sleeping well, although at the time I didn’t connect any of these issues together.  In April of 2015 I finally decided to make an appointment with my doctor.  
My primary physician referred me to a dermatologist who suggested a biopsy.  It was a simple procedure done right in the doctor’s office.  It was another couple of weeks before the results came back.  The doctor called on a Thursday afternoon while I was in the office; the results indicated I had a form of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.  I was shocked, I had convinced myself that it was just a reaction to something or maybe calcium deposits which I’ve had in the past.  But no, I had Cancer.  
I needed to tell my wife, I wanted to tell her right away so she could tell me it would be okay and we’d get through this.  But the timing was horrible.  My Birthday and Mother’s Day fell back to back on the approaching weekend.  My wife had worked to make plans for my birthday and I the same for her on Mother’s Day.  This news would surely take all of the joy from our celebrations.  I decided to wait to tell her, or anybody else.  My wife tells me I should have told her, and she’s probably right, but I just couldn’t bring myself to say anything, the kids and Michelle were enjoying themselves so much.  It was a great weekend; my birthday went off without a hitch and Michelle had a wonderful relaxing Mother’s Day.  I even convinced my wife to get a hamster for our daughter from a local pet expo.  
On the following Monday I told my wife the results of the biopsy.  She was loving and supportive telling me what I already knew.  Together we can get through anything.  We decided not to say anything to the kids until we had to.  And managed to go through my entire treatment without ever saying the word Cancer to or in front of our children.

      
The next couple months were filled with more biopsies, tests and scans.  In the meantime, we began discussing treatment options with my doctors.  The two Oncologists I was seeing had a difference of opinion over the exact subtype of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma that I have.  It was suggested by one of the doctors that I try a “watch and wait” approach.  This approach made no sense to me.  I had been “watching” this cancer spread from my chest to my arms and back for 6 months now and it had been stressful.  I didn’t want to “wait” any longer, every morning I looked in the mirror and was reminded of the worries and uncertainty the future may hold.  I wanted to start fighting back now.  
The doctors told me there was no cure for my cancer and that my battle would be a lifelong one.  I was ready for the fight, I had my family’s support and a positive attitude.  Eventually more testing determined the exact subtype of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma that I had & I started Immunotherapy treatments in August of 2015.
I handled the treatments well and the side effects were tolerable.  I was extremely tired the day of treatment and for maybe a day or two following.  I continued to lose weight, at my lightest I weighed less than 130 lbs, and developed joint pain that got progressively worse as the treatments went on.  My legs get very restless as well.

 
The first couple of treatments were the most difficult.  Due to the potential for adverse reactions, the first infusions are done very slowly.  Unfortunately, I still developed a reaction to the treatment.  Shortly after the infusion began, I began to feel itchy and asked my wife if she could scratch my back.  She lifted my shirt and gasped, almost my entire upper body was covered in huge, red hives.   They stopped the infusion immediately and switched over to IV antihistamine to treat the reaction.  Once everything seemed under control they began the immunotherapy infusion again at a slower rate, taking more than eight hours to complete the first treatment.  Treatment days continued to be an all-day affair but they were able to control the reactions during the remainder of the treatments.  
At the end of my treatments I was feeling great.  I even felt a bit lucky, the side effects weren’t horrible, the small tumors had faded away and the large ones were getting smaller every day.  I hadn’t lost my hair or had to undergo any surgeries.  At my appointment a couple weeks following treatment I even heard the words every cancer patient hopes for.  Remission.  Well Partial Remission for me, but I’ll take it.  The tumors had mostly gone away and I was happy, life was good.  My Wife and I with our two wonderful children were ready for move on with our lives.  But we were in for another shock…
In February of 2016 my wife was diagnosed with Stage 2B Breast Cancer.  My wife’s cancer was more aggressive than mine and treatment started very quickly.  In March my wife had bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction.  After healing from surgery she began chemotherapy, and following chemotherapy, she underwent radiation which she just finished this past month.  My wife is the most amazing person I have ever known.  All throughout my treatments she took care of me and our family.  And all though her own cancer treatments, she still took care of our family.  My wife is an an amazing mom, wonderful wife and my best friend.  


As if that weren’t all enough, in June my cancer unfortunately relapsed.  After new tests and scans my doctors believe the same cancer has returned.  This wasn’t completely unexpected; my wife and I were prepared for this possibility.  
My treatment will be similar this time, but much longer.  I am currently undergoing treatment every week in an effort to stop and shrink the current tumor growth.  After which I will continue to receive treatments every other month for the next 3 years and we’ll reassess at that point.
In spite of it all, we’re still as strong and positive as ever.  Cancer has been hard on our family but it has made us stronger and for that we are grateful.

The fear of Cancer....

Clickforhope, Breast CancerJasmine Lopez3 Comments

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.

Life before and after Breast Cancer

Clickforhope, Breast CancerJasmine LopezComment

Please share your story: : It was a Saturday in May of 2014. I was laying on my couch watching tv when my little pup climbed up on my chest. Where he stepped on me hurt, like someone pressing deep on a bruise. I touched the area and instinctively pushed around. Then I placed my hand on my other breast. All I can say is they felt different. Because I was only 33 years old, I talked myself out of it meaning anything. Until I noticed it was uncomfortable to sleep on my belly. I looked up how to properly do a self breast exam, and did one. And felt the same lump on my right side. Standing there in the bathroom, wrapped in a towel, I called my gynecologist. I had to wait 4 days to get in. I researched like crazy and found so many encouraging things. Things like 80% of lumps aren't cancerous. Cancer doesn't cause pain. Risk factors of obesity, drinking and smoking...none of those applied to me. Check, check, check. It must be a cyst. I saw the PA at my gynecologists office, and she said she wanted me to get an ultrasound, and then a mammogram if they felt it was necessary. 2 more days of waiting. As I laid there on the ultrasound table, I knew that I had cancer. She was taking way too long. And were those tears in her eyes? She knows. I know. I have CANCER. I had the mammogram, and got called in to the radiologist. He told me I needed a biopsy. That is all I remember. I called the surgeon who operated on my mother, and the fastest appointment they would give me was the following week. More waiting. Until my gynecologist called the next morning and asked when I got scheduled for a biopsy, I told her, and she then said words I will never forget. She said "the radiologist called and he's very concerned, and I am very concerned. I want you to have the biopsy today". I knew it...I knew it in my head but now I knew it in my heart. I had cancer. How could I possibly have cancer? My surgeon excused my mother and boyfriend from the room when doing the biopsy. It was just him and me. I asked him point blank if he thought it was cancer. I was ready for the crappy response of "let's wait and see". But he didn't say that. He touched my arm gently and said "yes, I do. But I am going to take care of you". When my cancer was confirmed days later, I was ready for the news. Ready to fight like hell. But I cared most about 1 thing. I hadn't had the chance to have kids yet. In 1 month, I had a mastectomy, genetic testing, underwent fertility preservation and started chemo. I was officially diagnosed with stage 2B ER+ Sentinel node positive axillary node negative breast cancer. I was very open about my battle, creating a private Facebook group for people to follow my story and encourage me along the way. It was my own personal army. I blogged weekly, pouring my heart out for anyone who cared to read it. And I kept moving forward. I went back to work when I was cleared to (I'm a pediatric physical therapist). It was then I shocked my team of doctors by asking if I could run in the Chicago Marathon, which would take place in between my 6th and 7th rounds of chemo. I had already signed up to run in honor of a patient of mine who lost his battle with a brain tumor. I knew I may only be able to get across the start line, but I didn't care. I just wanted permission to try. My oncologist said I could do as much as I wanted to do. And that gave me another purpose to fight on for during my treatment. I'm proud to say I finished 14 miles of the marathon that year, making Charity a Row my finish line. Every step out on the street that day made me forget that I was a cancer patient. I may not have crossed the finish line, but I will always think of that race as my best race of all time. I proved to everyone around me, and myself, that cancer may have chosen me but I chose to fight back and refuse to let it own who I am.
I went back and ran the marathon again in 2015, celebrating 1 year cancer free, and crossed that finish line.
I sit here now, just over 2 years cancer free, reflecting on how much life has changed for me since that May weekend back in 2014. Life will never be the same after you've been told you have cancer...but it reminds you that the time you have left is a gift.

How has your story shaped who you are today?: I found a strength, a passion and courage in myself that I never would have known I had, had I not been faced with cancer. Cancer has helped me relate to the children and families whom I work with on a different level now. I am open about my story, my journey, and I think it helps to know that they are working with someone who has "been there too".

What compelled you to share your story?: If I could get one message out, it's that I wish for all women who are faced with this terrible diagnosis to know that they are brave. They are strong. They will continue on, they will fight the beast and they can be the one in control. I took control when I somehow managed to run 14 miles of a marathon in the middle of my chemo treatments. I missed only 1 day of work because of pink eye. Otherwise I got up everyday, and lived my life exactly as I wanted to live it. I decided how I was going to feel that day and what I was going to do. And I wish the same for anyone who is in the same shoes.

What encouraging words would you give to someone who shares a similar story?: There are good days, and there are bad days but every day you get up and keep going, you win.

Tshirts: Hope 25

Blush Skirts: Marsymo

When Cancer hits home (Part 1)

Cancer, Family, Marriage, Clickforhope, Breast CancerJasmine Lopez1 Comment
clickforhope give back cancer story

Please share your story:

Early last year my husband was diagnosed with non-hodgkins lymphoma.  As a family we were devastated.  We have two small children & a lot going on in our busy lives already, taking on cancer treatment was going to be a hefty task & we clearly worried about the impact it may have on our children.  Thankfully he handled treatment well with minimal side effects & we were able to get through without ever saying the dreaded “C” word to our kids who were two & four at the time.  He was in remission as of August of 2015 & we grew stronger from the process.  I believe now, that it was God’s way of preparing us for my cancer.

I noticed a lump in my left breast in November of 2015.  But after all that my family had just been through, I wanted them to get through the holidays stress free so I opted not to call my physician until January.  A decision I later worried may cost me my life.  In February I was diagnosed with Stage 2B Invasive Ductal Carcinoma.  My surgeon estimated the tumor had been growing for approximately two years & treatment needed to start ASAP.  

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I had bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction (tram flap) in March.  I did 8 rounds of chemotherapy, starting in April & completed that in August.  Following chemo, I completed 33 rounds of radiation.  I’ll be on hormone therapy for ten years going forward & have one surgery remaining to complete reconstruction which I am safely waiting until next year to tackle.

Meanwhile, while I was going through chemo my husband became concerned that his lymphoma may be returning. Seriously, right??  Following some tests, his doctors confirmed that he had relapsed or possibly the cancer was never fully gone in the first place as we had thought.  He began treatment again this month (Oct) & will continue treatment for the next three years. 

It’s been a crazy long road & certainly a lot more than we had ever anticipated when it all began last year.  Cancer has given us a plethora of challenges, but it’s made us stronger & we appreciate life & one another now more than ever.  Most would consider us unlucky to both have gotten cancer, we would say that we’re blessed to have one another for support as we face these battles together.

 How has your story shaped who you are today?:

It's changed my life completely! I don't spend time now worrying about the future or things I can't change, it's wasted energy. Instead I focus on today & making it the best it can be. My focus is on positivity & the things that I can work to change for the better. 

 What compelled you to share your story on our blog?: 

Through it all my focus has been to remain positive.  I was encouraged by my friends, family & even my physicians to share my story, so I started a website, positivelysurvivingcancer.com. It's been amazing so far & I've had so many people reach out to me personally through the blog & Instagram. It's just so wonderful to take something so terrible & make something positive out of it. Stress is an ugly thing that can really slow down our body’s healing process, so it important to train ourselves to focus on positivity. I also really believe that if we look our best, we feel our best. Feeling our best is so important through cancer treatment because it allows our bodies to fight that much harder!  I would love to help continue to spread the word about my site & help more fellow cancer warriors out there as they make their way through this journey.

 What encouraging words would you give to someone who shares a similar story?:

Take it all one day at a time, one question at a time. Be strong & positive, don't let worries or negative thoughts take your strength!

Make Today Great T-Shirt: Hope 25

Blush Maxi Skirt: Marsymo

Inspiring Friends | Hope 25

Inspiring Business, Clickforhope, Breast Cancer, Inspiring FriendsJasmine LopezComment

I'm so excited to start a new series on the blog! I'm featuring inspiring creative entrepreneurs that are doing amazing things in Chicago or beyond, either through giving back or using their story as a way to help others. 

Today, I'm introducing you to Melissa of Hope 25! She's been a dear friend of mine, and this last year I got to watch her fight for her life and punch not only fear in the face, but Cancer. She is now cancer-free and started a shop to inspire and encourage other Cancer fighters.  I'm so inspired by her that I want a boxing glove necklace she sells for myself....I mean, who doesn't need to punch fear in the face?!? 

“Whatever you are passionate about, whatever idea you have, you have to let go of the insecurities and just try it.” -Melissa

Who is Melissa Tang? : I am a 20-something year old graphic designer, photographer, breast cancer survivor, and now shop owner.

Love your last name, where does Tang come from?: I was born and raised here in the Chicago-land area, but I am of Puerto Rican descent. My husband is from Venezuela and is half Venezuelan, half Chinese. That's where Tang comes from!

What's your favorite drink? McDonalds Coke all the way.

What makes you laugh?: My three year old niece. She likes to joke around and it's hilarious. It's always been her personality to try and make people laugh.

What does a typical Sunday afternoon look like for you?: Every Sunday is a little different. The best kinds of Sundays are spent going to church and then hanging out with family. Sometimes if my husband is off we'll do something fun like go to the beach in the summer or we'll watch a movie. This year it's sort of different every week. This past Sunday consisted of a buffet brunch with the fam, and then a super long nap with my hubby.

How can we stalk/follow you?: You can stalk me anytime! You can always reach me at Hope25.com. I try and blog at least once a week there. My favorite social media platform is Instagram, but I am also on Facebook as well.
Hope25.com
Instagram.com/shop_hope25
Facebook.com/shophope25

Please share what your shop is all about?: In August of 2015, at 25 years old, I found myself sitting in a doctor's office hearing the words nobody thinks they'll hear:  "You have Breast Cancer." My world was flipped upside down. I sat there as the doctor talked and all I could pick up on were words like chemo, surgery, and radiation. Once I realized that I was going to lose my hair, I started to search for hats and wigs. I realized that a lot of the websites for cancer fighters made me feel old or out of place. The idea of opening up my own shop was born.

It took a little while to get started. I lost my dad during this time as well and the pain of everything I was going through was overwhelming. I can even say that during my darkest hour I cried because I had lost hope. My world went black, but once the dust settled a bit, I put one foot in front of the other. I realized God has a plan for my life and I can't give up.

What inspired you to start your shop?: I realized that I wanted to open up a store that was a little less pink ribbon and a little more punch fear in the face. I wanted to be a source of encouragement for those who face a cancer diagnosis or any other chronic illness.  Thus, Hope25.com was born.

What's your favorite item in your shop?: I sell a boxing glove necklace that comes with a print with my motto on it: Punch Fear in the Face.  It is meant to remind someone going through a hard time that you can do this. You are not alone in the battles you are facing. With the purchase of this necklace one will be donated to someone currently going through treatment for cancer.

How has your faith helped you through the journey of fighting cancer and then wanting to encourage others also fighting cancer?: I couldn't have done this without God. There has been a sense of peace in my life that can only come from Him. I heard a song at a conference and I found myself singing along. I sang, "Break my heart for what breaks yours." I started crying thinking of all the hurting people who are going through dark times because of Cancer. If people could see God's peace in my life through my shop, that would be amazing. I pray that God guides me through this and uses me to help others. I couldn't have gone through the dark storms in life without Him.

What was the scariest part in launching your store? The scariest part was failure. What if I invested all this money and it fails? What if people hate my designs? What if nobody buys anything? At some point you have to just do it. Whatever you are passionate about, whatever idea you have, you have to let go of the insecurities and just try it, because what if you succeed? The hardest part was just getting the energy to do it at first. Chemo left me so tired and weak towards the end, but I continued to plan and just took a leap of faith. I opened up and I haven't looked back. It's been so much fun.

What encouraging words would you tell someone who wants to start a shop with a purpose of inspiring others?: As I said before: JUST DO IT. Whatever is holding you back, let it go. I'm the type of person that if I want something to get done I have to go full force before I change my mind (or let's be honest before I get lazy-haha). My store wasn't 100% how I wanted it to be when I opened up, but I had to start somewhere. So that's my advice. Just start somewhere. Just do it. Don't let insecurities take over. There will be someone that loves your store. If your heart is in giving back or inspiring others, then focus on that.  When you get discouraged because you haven't made any sales, go back to the reason why you started in the first place and begin again.

Breast Cancer | Melissa

Clickforhope, Breast CancerJasmine Lopez2 Comments

Please share your story:  

On August 24th 2015 my world flipped upside down. I found myself at 25, in a doctors office, waiting for what would be very bad news. Deep down I already knew what the Dr. would say. Let me back up for just a minute. Two months before I was driving. I had an itch on my breast and noticed something funny. That stuck with me. A month later I remembered and my husband checked. He confirmed he felt something too. I remember crying and feeling so silly. A lump? No. It's nothing. Then sharp shooting pain started and the Dr's appointment I had was pushed up. Suddenly I was told to get an ultrasound done, then a mammogram, and then a Biopsy. So on August 24th, the doctor came in and sat down. She had the test results. “We have your results from the biopsy….Unfortunately, You have Breast Cancer”. Suddenly my life stopped. I soon learned that I have stage 2 ductal carcinoma Breast Cancer. That scary "C" word you always hear about but think you'll never get it. Followed by another "C" world. Chemo. My future became a blur with a giant red question mark that seems to haunt me. That week was one of the hardest times in my life filled with many doctors, tests, and fear. I said at the beginning of this year, that it was the year to fight fear in the face. I had no idea how many times that would ring true. It was like all my fears where thrown in my face. Cancer. Chemotherapy. Surgery. (Possible) Mastectomy. Fertility Issues (due to chemo). Hair Loss. How could I handle the thought of being boob-less and hair-less all at once? I can’t even begin to describe the pain and the fear that comes along with being diagnosed with Cancer. 

Without thinking to much I started on IVF treatments right away so that they can extract Eggs and freeze some embryos, so that I have a better chance at getting pregnant when this is over. Chemotherapy will start soon. I am so scared. I am scheduled to start on October 1st. When I sat down one night to read all the possible side effects to the drugs I will be on, I sat down and cried. My husband held me. He's been amazing though all of this. He's told me I'll be beautiful no matter what, even when I have a bald head. 

You're probably wondering how am I able to share this? I have to come to appreciate the little things. My family and my husband have my been rock. They are constantly checking in on me and asking how I'm doing. God has given me peace and strength. I have my good days and my bad days, but I believe that God is with me. Anytime I am scared I tell my husband and we bow or kneel in prayer and talk to God. For these reasons, I am able to smile. For these reasons, I have hope. I have no idea what the next year is going to be like, but I do know it will be the hardest year of my life. I don't always feel so confident, and if you are going through something tough I'm sure you know how hard it is to fight through it, but I will not give up hope. I will fight this. In God's name I will win this battle. If you find yourself feeling alone, I urge you to pray. You can also contact me and I would be happy to talk about the struggles that comes with being a cancer fighter.

If you'd like to read more, I've started blogging about my story at BreastCancerAt25.com.

How has your story shaped you into who you are today?: 

My story as a breast cancer fighter has just started. I'm not sure how it has shaped me, but what I do hope is this. I don't want to waste cancer. I believe that I have cancer for a reason. I don't know how God will use this in my life, but I pray that it will help me become a better person. I pray that it will help me help someone else. I don't know what that looks like now, only time will tell. 

On a much smaller scale, I do see that I value my time with people that I love more. I hold the memories I spend with family and friends so much closer to my heart now. I've also been praying and doing my best to lean onto God, so I pray that God's love will start shining through me.

Why were you compelled to share your story?: 

So that I can be someone's hope. So that anyone who stumbles on this knows, there is hope for a brighter future. You are not alone.

What encouraging words would you give to someone who shares a similar story? : 

You're not alone. Don't loose Hope. It is a daily fight for me to be positive and have Hope. It is so important when I'm feeling down or sad to tell someone. When the pain of what's happening physically and emotionally strikes me, I go back to this verse. Philippians 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.