From that consultation, one thing led to the other. From physical exams, I was referred to a breast specialist who then ordered a mammogram and ultrasound then eventually led to a biopsy. And from there, I got my initial diagnosis of stage 2A ER+ HER2-. This is in October 2016.
I was extremely shocked and sad to receive the news because I was just new to San Diego working in the hotel industry. I was only 36 back then and at the prime of my life. I was also on my own and far away from my family who are in the Philippines. I was active, ate healthy most of the time and had a great social life so it all just didn’t make sense to me and it took me a while to accept that I had this diagnosis.
For the whole year of 2017, I did chemotherapy, lumpectomy surgery, radiation and hormone treatment. I had to stop work, focus on my healing, and dealt with depression from the hair loss and other unpleasant side effects from the brutal treatments. I started to document my journey on social media as a therapeutic release and coined the artist name “Jaymee WINS” as a self-reminder that no matter what happens, I will choose to win over life’s daily struggles while going through a cancer diagnosis. After my lumpectomy, we found out that 1 lymph node had metastasis which bumped me to stage 2b.
Then I went on remission as I was on hormone therapy and kept living life with so much zest. But on my routine scan 1.5 years later, we found out that I had new lesions on my hip bones so we had to switch treatments. So I was again, bumped up to stage 4 and my cancer is now considered metastatic. It was the lowest point in my life. I thought with all my heart that I beat cancer already so for it to come back was just a major let down. But with tons of support from my medical team, good friends and kind strangers, I kept on with life. My hip bone lesions stayed stable and I was able to find reasons to smile again.