“You have breast cancer, it’s advanced, and it’s aggressive.”
No one in my family had ever had cancer, of any kind. So it was never something that was on my mind. It just wasn’t something that I was concerned about. I couldn’t get cancer. I was only 35, no previous health problems, not a smoker or heavy drinker, not overweight. But in July of 2017, everything changed. I felt a sharp pain in my left breast, I examined the area, and found a sizable lump. Within days, I was diagnosed with stage III breast cancer that had already spread to my lymph nodes. I didn’t understand how this could happen. I was more scared than I had ever been in my life. I didn’t know how I was going to continue with my life as it currently was and battle breast cancer. My son was just two years old, I was finally back at work. But I was determined not to let cancer take my life. I did genetic testing and found out I’m BRCA1 positive, making me more likely not only to develop cancer, but 50-85% likelihood of recurrence. I underwent 6 months of intense chemotherapy, had a bilateral mastectomy, 33 rounds of radiation therapy, and will have a hysterectomy as well as a preventative measure to ensure I don’t get ovarian, cervical, or uterine cancer. My husband and I can never have anymore children. A new mass was found on my left lung recently, which could mean the cancer has metastasized, despite completing active treatment. Every day is a fight and a battle against the cancer cells invading my body. But I’ve learned a lot this past year battling cancer. I’ve learned that you can find friendship and comfort in the most uncertain places and uncertain people.
There are many women that know their family history of cancer and do genetic testing, finding out about genetic mutations before developing cancer and doing preventative surgeries. I can’t help but feel sad and envious. I wish I had had some inkling or idea. I wish I had known. But cancer does not care about your age or your gender or your family history. Be your own advocate and KNOW YOUR BODY. It might save your life.