Celebrating the small things helps any difficult journey.

Aloha, my name is Jo-leen and I was diagnosed at age 47 with stage 1 invasive ductal carcinoma in my right breast on 2/20/2020. I have a family history of breast cancer but thankfully, my genetics test came back negative for the BRCA 1 & 2 gene.

My treatments included a lumpectomy with sentinel node removal (all nodes were negative for cancer), 4 rounds of chemotherapy (TC regimen), 20 sessions of radiation and currently hormone therapy (Tamoxifen) for the next 5 years.

When my doctor called with my diagnosis I was in shock.  After the call, I just cried.  I thought this diagnosis was my life sentence. I didn’t know much about breast cancer at the time but after much research, doctor appointments and talking to breast cancer survivors I learned that this type of cancer was highly treatable.

The hardest part of this journey was going through chemotherapy.  I started to lose my hair after my first round of chemo so I decided to shave my head. I felt that shaving my head would be far less traumatic than losing chunks of my hair.  I would always tell myself, “It will grow back, this is temporary”.   After the second round though, I began to doubt if I could endure going through it two more times.  Having the support of my family and close friends helped me to stay strong and finish all 4 rounds.

I truly believe that early detection is the key to my survival.  The tumor in my breast was found at my yearly mammogram.  I’ve also learned that you never know how strong or brave you are until you have to go through something this scary.  I am definitely more appreciative of life and the people that have surrounded me with love and support through this time.  I could NOT have gone through this without them.

My last mammogram scan came back all clear, cancer-free.  I am a survivor!