Stage 2b, Washington DC

I was diagnosed with ER/PR+ Invasive Ductal Carcinoma and DCIS breast cancer on my 31st birthday in November. It was grade III, stage IIB. I will never truly know the accuracy of the stage because I was also 12 weeks pregnant and I couldn’t have the MRI. I remember the day when my mom and I walked into my oncologist’s office. She sat with us for almost two hours; answering every question and gently explaining how she would treat other women versus a pregnant one. Her goal was to treat my cancer aggressively because of its strong history in my family. My grandma and mom are survivors and my aunt was diagnosed in January. My oncologist ensured I left that meeting knowing all of my options.

My pregnancy made this journey a waiting game. It wasn’t safe to begin treatment until the middle to end of my second trimester. It also meant three weeks between chemo rounds instead of two. Sadly, I wouldn’t finish chemo before giving birth. Being pregnant limited holistic treatment options and I refused to fill any of the medication prescriptions throughout treatment. I wanted to get better, but I didn’t want to do anything to harm my baby girl. I heard of a lot of “it shouldn’t be risky for the baby, but we haven’t seen too many cases of pregnant women with breast cancer.” I appreciate the honesty of my doctors and nurses. I am fortunate I wasn’t misguided and experimented with like many other women along the treatment journey. Lack of experience and knowledge by the experts made this journey more about following my intuition and turning inwardly to make the best decisions to heal myself and to protect my daughter.

I felt broken in the beginning and I didn’t know where to pick up the pieces. Then magically, one day I started rebuilding from the inside out. I had a mastectomy and four rounds of AC before giving birth. Afterward, I completed my final four rounds of Taxol chemo. I still have quite a bit of work to do as I continue to heal. Now I have to meet a radiation oncologist and determine if I will move forward with radiation therapy. Then I will take Tamoxifen for the next 10 years.

Even though breast cancer has changed my life forever, it also has given me so much. It showed me the strength of my support system. It birthed a magnificent daughter. It taught me to love myself again, accept my uniqueness, and helped me tap into my femininity. My journey isn’t complete, but I’m grateful for how much I’ve transformed. For me, a breast cancer diagnosis didn’t stop my life instead it symbolizes that I was given a second chance at life and I refuse to waste it.