On June 8, 2018, at the age of 32, I first heard those dreaded words: “You have breast cancer.” The words continued to swirl in my head. I didn’t even hear the follow-up assurances that I was going to live. Three days earlier, I had felt a lump in my left breast during one of my almost monthly self-breast exams. I knew something felt wrong, so I made my husband feel it, too. Lucky him! He told me it was nothing, but thought I should get it checked out, so I made an appointment with my primary doctor. That Friday she felt it, said it was probably a fibroadenoma (nothing cancerous), yet still put in an order for me to have a mammogram, ultrasound, and biopsy. The Margaret Niedland Breast Center at Jupiter Medical Center called me on my way to work not 15 minutes later and had an appointment for me to come in that day for a mammogram and ultrasound. The diagnosis was confirmed a week later with the breast biopsy.
For my 33rd birthday in July, I was given the gift of a bilateral mastectomy with direct-to-implant reconstruction performed beautifully by my team of doctors at Jupiter Medical Center. While the surgery removed all evidence of disease, there was cancer found in one of my lymph nodes and lymphatic vessels - my heart dropped as this meant in order to reduce my chance of recurrence, I was going to need with chemotherapy, radiation, hormone suppressants.
I finished four cycles of Cytoxan and Taxotere in October. I was one of the lucky ladies to have a cancer center that offered the use of the Dignicap so I was able to save most of my hair. The side effects were managed with prophylactic medications, but boy was I wiped by the end.
About four weeks later in November I began my radiation therapy - 28 whole breast treatments with 5 boosts. As of today, I am twelve rounds shy of completion. The fatigue is overwhelming and the ache is setting in, but I can see the light!
I am looking forward to being done with active treatment, moving onto the aromatase inhibitor as well as ovarian suppression, but most importantly finding the new normal.
I lost a dear friend in 2017 to this disease, so I knew all too well what this diagnosis meant for those around me. I strive to emulate her positivity each day. Her bravery in facing her initial diagnosis and further recurrences has guided me thus far. I know how lucky I am, as I have an amazing husband, a wonderful family, the best of friends, and amazing coworkers. I am going to live. There are many moments when I start thinking how an active and healthy 32-year-old with no familial history or genetic mutations can get breast cancer, but I remind myself that I am a lighthouse to guide those who hopefully never, but may very well follow in my footsteps.
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