Welcome to our CaringBridge site. We've created it to keep friends and family updated. We appreciate your support and words of hope and encouragement during this time.
Before I begin telling my story I want you (whoever is reading this) to go right now and talk with everyone in your family (MEN TOO) do a self-breast exam. If you do not know how here is the link: http://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/testing/types/self_exam/bse_steps
PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE go do this... I don't want you to be in the same situation as me... or if you are, I want you to find it early!
Here is chapter 1 of my Journey:
On March 27th I found a lump on my left breast (while shaving my underarms - I know this sounds funny and it is, except this may have saved my life.I was very scared of course, I called my mom. She helped ease my mind, but pushed me to go to the doctor as soon as possible. Luckily, I get free walk-in visits at the University Health Center! The nurse practitioner I saw was AMAZING, she reassured me that it is very rare to diagnose a person of my age with breast cancer but referred me to get an Ultrasound just to be on the safe side. They actually got me in on that same day (Monday), the radiology tech was wonderful as well and again reassured me that it is very rare to diagnose a 24 year old with cancer - are you catching my drift? BE PERSISTENT and listen to your gut! The radiology doctor read my results as I was getting dressed; he was concerned with the size and shape of the mass they found and ordered a biopsy. I was very upset and of course called my mom right after.... I was scared. She drove down here with my grandma that night to be with me. The next day, Tuesday I did the biopsy and we just waited patiently for the results. We got the call on Friday, April 1st, from the Health Center. They wanted us to come in and talk. I knew what this meant...
I am telling you right now... there is nothing in this world that can possibly prepare you to hear the words "it is cancer...". I honestly don't really know exactly what she said after that... but I am sure it was just as hard to tell us the diagnosis as it was to hear it. I was so glad to have my family in there with me. My family went with me to talk with one of my professors (I had class scheduled that day). The professors in my program have been so wonderful in my journey and helping me to work towards my goal of Graduating in December.... I will reach this goal.
Stage 1 IDC (grade 3 tumor)
13mm mass left breast
Diagnosed at 24
ALL genetic testing was negative
All lymph nodes were negative
No family history
I had to make many decisions... Very hard decisions that no one should have to make. These decisions had many factors including how long I want to live, losing a part of my body that means a lot to me (and society), genetics that may impact my family and future children. Each option had categories... I was basically in a web of options... These were some of the hardest decisions I have ever made.
Big decision 1: Bilateral Mastectomy
Good: All breast tissue (98-99%) of it is gone so I have a better chance of NOT getting a recurring diagnosis
Bad: I will never look the same, I lose my ability to feel like a..."woman", and I will never be able to breast feed future children
I chose life and to hopefully reduce worry of the future.
Big decision 2: Genetic testing
Good: this 25 panel testing looks at specific markers of various cancer including (ovarian, breast, uterine, cervical, colon, and prostate (in family and future children).
Bad: it was quite expensive and time consuming
I chose to do this... with my parents help and help from community donations we were able to do the testing
Big decision 3: re-construction
Good: each option has its own pros and cons.... the big decision was whether to do reconstruction during mastectomy procedure or do temporary tissue expanders then get final reconstruction later.
Bad: Adding an extra surgery is not fun and of course requires extra recovery.
Big decision 4: Treatment Regiment - luckily most of my doctors made these choices
Good: The treatment regimen is intense and will kill most or all of the potential cancer cells that may have floated throughout my body... BEST PREVENTATIVE MEASURE EVER.
Bad: This treatment is intense... VERY Intense - they call it "Red Devil" and it truly is horrible.
So far I am doing very well. I finished the AC (Adriamycin and Cytoxan) - Red Devil treatments. They were horrible (read journal entries for further information on how well I did NOT tolerate it. I am currently halfway done with Taxol and I will be finished with Chemo on September 2nd! Happy DAY! Beautiful, wonderful, glorious, blessed, and emotional day that I cannot wait for! I tolerate Taxol so much better than the AC.
On top of this wonderful day, I completed all my required coursework so far and currently have a 3.9 GPA in school. I do not know how I did it, but I did and I owe it to my family, friends, classmates, and professors at USI for helping me be successful! I start 16 weeks of fieldwork in just a couple weeks. I am set to graduate on December 10, 2016 and attending our Occupational Therapy Assistant Program Pinning Ceremony on December 16, 2016.
I am the SURVIVOR and I Fought Like a Girl!