Stage 2, South Carolina

“Hi! My name is Lauren. I have been married for 3.5 years and I have a two year old son.”

My family is riddled with all different cancers. Both alive and dead from head to toe. Because of this I have been getting mammograms since I was 30. Had a baby at 33 and skipped getting a mammogram that year. After things from the pandemic slowed down and optional medical services were restored I went in for my annual mammogram.

They called me the next day and said it looked abnormal so I needed to come back. The second appt was a mammogram and an ultrasound. They called me the next day and said I had asymmetry and calcifications. That was very uncharacteristic for a 34 year old. They wanted me back a third time for a mammogram, ultra sound and a biopsy. The wildest part is that I didn’t have a tumor. I didn’t have many of the signs to look for. The only way my cancer was or could have been and was found was through mammogram and MRI.

My doctor called me the next day and told me that it was cancer. He said It was invasive intraductal carcinoma. I didn’t know what he meant. I got hot and instantly cold. I was sweating and my mouth got dry.
All the things happened at once. I was so confused. I just went in to get my gold star, my green check mark. Every time I’d gone they’d told me I was too young to be there so that helped me with my anxiety and I had no worries. But now I was right. I didn’t want to be right for forcing my way into approvals and referrals but I was right to demand these things for myself but this wasn’t the time or place nor would it ever be to say, I was right.

From there on everything was a blur. I was diagnosed on 9/4 and my first chemo cycle was 10/8, on the anniversary of our first date Between that time, that wasn’t even a month; we did IVF, I had my port placement surgery, completed genetic testing, I had A CT scan, a PET scan, an MRI, a lymph node biopsy and I had an egg retrieval. It was a busy month. I ended up being diagnosed with Stage 2 HER2+ breast cancer at the age of 34.

On Halloween my husband shaved my head. I’m glad he did it. I feel like it made us closer. He shaved his head two days later to surprise me. My father in law did too! With a two year old this has been a lot. It’s scary. I don’t want to die. I just want to grow a healthy family and go to work. Earn my paycheck. Be a good mom. But there was an extra card in my deck.
Since 10/8 I have completed six rounds of chemo, I have had a double mastectomy with reconstruction and I have my exchange surgery in July. I am currently in radiation and immunotherapy. I have 9/25 sessions of radiation left and I’m half way finished with immunotherapy. I am projected to be finished with everything in Oct which would be 13 months since diagnosis.
I have studied and obsessed over the choices I have made in my life up to the moment of diagnosis and wonder what/if I did anything to cause this. The doctors say it wasn’t anything I did, with this type of cancer, but my mind still wanders there from time to time.

My BRCA came back negative. In my research I’ve found out that with a negative BRCA there was a 12% chance of me getting breast cancer before the after of 70. Of women diagnosed with breast cancer only 5% are HER2+ HR-
Those stats blew my mind. You can’t choose your family. And for me that now includes my breasties as well as My AYA Cancer family. Their support has been invaluable and means the world to me. I have taken this time to educate as many people as I can that cancer doesn’t discriminate and doesn’t recognize age. So be your own health advocate and know your body. Have a baseline so you can recognize differences.

Lauren T