Hi. My name is Melanie (@iammelaniehearmeroar on Instagram), and I am 39 years young.
I wanted to share my story so other men and women can see that there is HOPE.
I was 26 years young when my husband Garner & I had been trying to conceive, and instead, I was diagnosed with a very aggressive stage 2 grade 3 triple-negative DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ).
We had to stop trying, of course, and undergo surgeries, treatments, bloodwork, etc. My oncologist told us we had to wait one full year after my final day of treatment before we started trying to conceive again. I had a number of tests before surgery (breast ultrasound, mammogram, biopsy, etc). Once the biopsy came back, my surgeon told me, in a room with my husband & amazing mother-in-law Linda, that I had breast cancer.
I remember having a little cry, but essentially saying "Ok. What now? What do we have to do to beat this?" as I had so much I still wanted to do. I went for a Mug-A-Scan to test if my heart was strong enough to pump the chemo around my body. I had a sentinel node biopsy to see if my cancer had spread (it involved 4 out of 19 removed lymph nodes). I then had a left segmental mastectomy to remove the tumour, and a few weeks later, I had a Port-O-Cath inserted as my veins were already crappy, and my oncologist Dr. Graham said chemo was going to beat them up even worse.
I ended up undergoing 4 cycles 3 weeks apart of F.E.C chemo (fluorouracil, epirubicin, cyclophosphamide), then they switched it up to Taxotere chemo for another 4 cycles 3 weeks apart. They thought in case the cancer cells became "smart" or resistant to the first, a new kind was a good plan.
On F.E.C, I became very tired, had a very sensitive stomach and could not tolerate spice, complete hair loss between cycles, and because of the fatigue, I gained quite a bit of weight.
On Taxotere, the fatigue remained, but it added an almost-loss of my toenails to the mix, and swelling. Once chemo was finished, I "rested" (using this term loosely) for what was around 4 weeks, and during that time, I had consultations for radiation therapy (I opted for the radiation tattoos so the radiology staff wouldn't have to Sharpie me up every day!).
Radiation SUCKED! I had 2nd-degree burns under my left breast. It was essentially an open sore for 6 weeks under there. Radiation also caused major fatigue.
At the time, my city (Red Deer, Alberta, Canada) was not equipped with a radiation department, so during all of this, I also had to go to Calgary, Alberta to live with my uncle and he drove me back and forth from the Tom Baker Cancer Centre. I was grateful for my uncle & aunt for their hospitality and compassion, but I had major anxiety being away from my husband. We have never, and still don't, do well apart.
My final day of radiation therapy (30 treatments in total - 25 regular sessions and 5 "booster" sessions) as on December 22nd, 2006. I was SO grateful to be finished treatment before Christmas, as the thought of being away from my family was nearly unbearable... For the first 2 years after surgeries/treatment, I continued to have regular CT scans and mammograms every 6 months. And, I am happy to say, one year and one month after I completed radiation, my husband and I were expecting a baby!
Jayden William Joseph Sorsdahl was born on November 6th, 2008. There is hope after cancer. Cancer doesn't always win. I would be lying if I said I was "over it", but I have learned to live with breast cancer as part of my PAST. I still get pretty heavy anxiety when I go for my yearly mammogram, but I am able to recover from it sooner.
Cancer also taught me who I can really count on. I don't mean for it to come out "catty", but you truly do find out who your REAL friends are, and who will truly be there for you regardless of the circumstances.
I am very fortunate to have an amazing support system in place. Thank you for reading/listening. I hope my story has given you, or someone you may know, even just an ounce of extra hope. P.S. I still had one good boob, lol... so I was able to 75% nurse and 25% formula feed our son. Take THAT, breast cancer! Love to you!