I don’t like attention. I’m not the propagating type. But a breast cancer diagnosis challenged my concept of life and offered me a kind of purpose- to reach out to others. I am writing this and doing all I can to make “kicking mASS” a positive and growing experience.
Last summer, at the age of 30 I found a tiny lump in my breast. I was motioned through all of the doctor visits, mammograms, ultrasounds and even an excisional biopsy. All the while every medical professional along the way reassuring me with the words, “It’s nothing. You’re too young and healthy.” When the biopsy pathology report was available I went to see the surgeon with my two young boys in tow. I was sat down in his office, not an exam room, and still failed to recognize that I was about to be delivered a big blow.
“They found cancer.” It was shocking news, especially when all the doctors anticipated the tumor to be benign. The first few hours after diagnosis were difficult. I didn’t know anything about cancer. The very word was synonymous with terminal, death. But I wasn’t devastated or even angry. I was instead very driven to learn all I could and particularly interested in breast cancer in young women. I may have been blind-sided with the diagnosis, but I was not about to fight cancer blindly.
In a matter of weeks I was wearing a hairnet and an equally unfashionable gown, giving thumbs up to my husband from a rolling bed. I had undergone a bilateral mastectomy with immediate reconstruction and a sentinel node biopsy in the five hours prior.
I was staged at 1A. Although my cancer was invasive, it had not spread to my lymph nodes. I did not carry any known breast cancer gene mutations (BRCA 1, 2) and further testing done on the mass provided a detailed biology that determined that I would not benefit from chemo. I did not do radiation either. My only treatments were surgery and 5 years of tamoxifen.
In this past year, I have met many young women who have and still fight breast cancer. I am very active in our young survivor group, serving on the committee for the Pink Ribbon Cowgirls, a program of the Breast Cancer Resource Center of Texas. I volunteer my time with this local group to make sure that other women are afforded the same information, support and comfort I was given. My quest for the latest and greatest news on breast cancer is unending.
I am testimony to the importance of early detection. Be your own health advocate…it could save your life.