On July 3rd, 2017, I was diagnosed with Stage 3, IDC, ER/PR+ HER2- breast cancer. I was a healthy, active woman with no history of breast cancer in my family. I felt my body had betrayed me. I was way too young to have breast cancer.
I found a dimple during a self-exam. My doctor told me it felt “smooth and non-worrisome,” but at my request, she scheduled a mammogram and ultrasound for me.
At this appointment, I learned I had dense breast tissue and two lumps which ultimately led to me having a bilateral mastectomy. The plastic surgeon went straight to implants and seven weeks later, I started chemotherapy. My cancer had spread to my lymph nodes, so my oncologist recommended four treatments of Adriamycin/Cytoxan, “The Red Devil,” followed by Paclitaxel. I only had seven of the 12 treatments because I developed neuropathy in my hands and feet and my white blood cell count was too low for too many weeks.
Because the cancer had spread to my lymph nodes, I also had 25 radiation treatments. The radiology oncologist provided me with Mepitel which saved my skin in the long run. After treatments were over, I had a gnarly burn with a rash, but it finally went away after several weeks. I now suffer from capsular contracture in the right breast mound.
Once my radiation treatments were complete, I started taking a drug called Tamoxifen. It’s a hormone blocker that I will take for five more years.
During my journey, I journaled and wrote a book called, How Cancer Cured My Broken Soul. The writing process was cathartic for me, and my goal was to use the book to help others going through breast cancer treatments. I am a Guide for newly diagnosed patients with the Firefly Sisterhood, a non-profit in The Cities, and a Mentor for Join the Journey, a non-profit in Rochester, Minnesota. I also manage a private, Facebook journaling group.