My Cancer Journey:
In March of 2017 life seemed to be normal for me. I was working two jobs, a team mom for my son’s baseball team, and just living my life. One evening after an exhausting day at work, I was laying down and I felt something unusual on my chest. After feeling it some more, I noticed it was a lump. I thought nothing of it because I lift very heavy boxes and move appliances at work. So initially I thought that I had just pulled a muscle.
By the end of March, the lump was hurting even worse and getting bigger. I finally called my OB and he got me in right away. After going to my OB, they sent me for a mammogram, and that followed with an immediate ultrasound. Then, I was told I had to come back for an ultrasound-guided biopsy. Even with all these tests going on, I still thought it was nothing. We have no cancer in our family, and I was only 31 at the time. Right away my family was there for me. My husband and I are high school sweethearts, we have been together since our Sophmore year. He has a big family and so do I. They are the ones who truly helped me get through it all. My husband was my rock, always has been.
April 13, 2017, was the day my life changed forever. I got the call that said you need to come to the doctor’s office, with a family member. We all knew I had cancer. Then, it came to the wait game. Wait to get into any hospital to take care of your cancer? Or try to get into the best hospital? I was lucky enough to get to go to the City of Hope, and I couldn’t be happier. I love them there. On April 26, it was my very first visit there. That is when I would learn how aggressive my breast cancer really was.
Triple negative, grade 3, stage 2a. Being Triple Negative, they recommend that you do chemotherapy first then you have surgery to remove the cancer. I was told that chemo could ruin my reproductive system, and that I would have the option of freezing my eggs, but that would mean that I would have to postpone starting chemo. I knew that wouldn’t be a good idea, and my husband and I have a 11-year-old son, so we opted to just start chemo. I was told I would need to start chemotherapy as soon as possible. On May 25, I had my first chemo. After my first chemo, I had my port put in, I started chemo asap, so they didn’t have time to place it before my first chemo. I loved my port! I lost my hair after the 13th day after my very first chemo. I had a “Head Shave Party” with my family. My husband and son both shaved their heads with me as well. I had 4 dose-dense of the “Red Devil”. Then, I had 10 of 12 weekly doses of Taxol and Carbo, I had 14 rounds of chemo total, finishing October 5th. That day I came home to a street filled with family and friends throwing me a “Chemo Finito Party!” A party and day I will never forget.
Then I had my bilateral mastectomy, with immediate implants, this was on November 6th, I found out that I had a complete response to chemo, and that I didn’t need radiation!! I was so happy, I also wouldn’t have to be on any type of medication to prevent a recurrence because I had such a great response to chemo. I did have complications with that surgery, well not the surgery itself, my plastic surgeon thought that I had glue stuck on my incision line, come to find out it was a scab. A few days after this happened, I showed my husband how my breast implant looked, and his face was immediately concerning. I sent photos to my surgeon and I ended up in the hospital for immediate surgery and then, I stayed in the hospital for 6 days, with my husband by my side the whole time. I then went home right around Christmas time, to be on IV antibiotics for two weeks, I didn’t have any complications after that.
I found out that my cancer was linked to genetics. I have the BRCA1 gene. My sister has so far tested positive for the genetic mutation, we got it from my father. The thing that I still find crazy is that there is no cancer on my father’s side. So, I was literally the first person who was diagnosed with breast cancer on my father’s side. I plan on having my hysterectomy by the time I am 35. My sister is doing the preventative surgeries. She has already had her hysterectomy.
I didn’t have too many effects from chemo. I had neuropathy and chemo brain, but they both have dissipated. My menstrual cycle returned about 6 months after I was done with chemo. I went to my OB to see if I could get pregnant. I knew that I wasn’t supposed to get pregnant until about three years out of chemo because of the high chance of a recurrence. I found out in June that my levels were too low to get pregnant. My oncologist told me in July that she wanted me to have an IUD placed so I wouldn’t get pregnant. I made an appointment to have the IUD place, but I had a feeling I was pregnant. So, the following day, I went and got a pregnancy test. I found out I was pregnant! I was so scared that my doctors wouldn’t be happy with this, but I got on the phone and called my oncologist right away, and made an appointment with my OB. My oncologist was thrilled for me. She said that they would just keep an extra eye on me, but since my cancer wasn’t hormone fed, that being pregnant didn’t increase my chances of having a recurrence. I was thrilled! Then, I went to my OB and told him, I’m pregnant! He said, that I am a true miracle! I am currently five months pregnant and my son, and husband are so excited. We are having a baby girl and naming her Hope Ann.
I just want to let everyone going through or about to go through treatment, that you aren’t alone! You feel like cancer is going to consume your life, and it will only be a part of your life. Even though, I choose to always tell people about my journey, that of course is a personal decision. I don’t think about my cancer coming back. I never thought I would get cancer, but here I am. So, I choose to not live in fear, if my cancer does come back, I will fight it again. There is nothing I can do to make my cancer not come back. So, I feel that if I do live in fear, then I am just letting cancer take away more than it already has. Life does go on. Your hair does grow back, and your body doesn’t feel like your 50 years old. So, live your life, and don’t be afraid to tell people in your life, that you need them!!
Instagram - @Jennifera7x_triplenegative