My story begins on April 17th at 3 o'clock in the afternoon this is the date and time that the physician called me to tell me that the lump I felt in my breast while showering, well the biopsy had come back positive for cancer; I was 31 years old. I was a new mother of a 6 month old baby girl, and my first thought was this can't really be happening to me.I have never really been sick a day in my life and I lead a healthy lifestyle for the most part. The next couple of weeks were a blur I felt as if I had a doctor's appointment almost every day; further imaging studies with MRIs and PET scans, and multiple physicians and specialists, plastic surgeons, breast surgeons, oncologists that provide chemotherapy and radiation oncologists. It was determined that my only options when all the evalutions and testing were complete was that of chemotherapy first then surgery then radiation therapy. My cancer was advanced and aggressive and due to my age I was started on 6 cycles of chemotherapy right away given every 3 weeks. My chemotherapy was a combination of 3 drugs that was a pretty aggressive treatment to slow down and stop the growth and spread of the cancer cells. None of my treatments were easy, but I thought the first two cycles of chemotherapy would kill me much faster then the cancer ever would it made me that sick. I lost my hair in the first two weeks after the first round of chemotherapy, I was devastated. I think I felt that with the loss of my hair it was a symbol I was really sick. My husband who was always supportive told me, "just enter the room with that beautiful smile and positive attitude and no one will ever notice that you don't have hair. I would schedule my treatments for a Thursday so that I could take Thursday and Friday off from work and have the weekend to recover then I would return to work on Monday, as I needed to work to help support my family, plus I carried the insurance for the family, it was difficult but I managed through it. I had almost a complete response from chemotherapy meaning that once my chemotherapy was complete I could no longer feel the lump, and on scans they could no longer see cancer cells or a mass. Because of this great news I was able to have a lumpectomy and lymph node dissection instead of the mastectomy they origionally thought I was going to have to have. Once I healed from surgery I then underwent 6 almost 7 weeks of radiation therapy to the breast to complete the treatment. I completed all my treatments two days before Christmas that year, I say completion of these treatments was a Christmas present I gave to myself.
I am now 7 years out from my diagnosis and treatments and I have learned to slow down and enjoy life for what it is, a gift that I no longer take lightly, because you never know when this gift may be taken away from you. I am also a huge advocate for breast self examinations, I was the one who found my lump, and I thank god everyday that I was able to catch it and feel it early on before the prognosis became worse.