I am 35 years old, and in 2007, I was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis. I was working two jobs and was constantly on my feet. I began to have problems walking all day. I could not get my feet to move like they were supposed to. I went to my doctor, and they tested me for gout. The test came back negative, so he sent me to a rheumatologist because he said he had no idea what was wrong.
I went and saw the specialist, and they ran some test and said I had rheumatoid arthritis. I told them it had to be something more than that because the pain in my Achilles tendons was unbearable. So they ran another test, and and it came back positive for AS. She started me on Enbrel, which worked for about a year, and then I had to be switched to Humira. This is a fantastic drug and worked very well for me up until I got pregnant and had to be off all meds. In my case, I didn’t need any while I was pregnant. I had never felt better. I had zero flare ups and felt amazing!
After I had my son in 2013, I was still able to be off all meds for about 5 more months. I started getting flare ups again, so the doctor put me back on Humira, but this time sadly, it didn’t work. She had consulted with Iowa City Hospital to see which medication she should change to, and I was pretty impressed that she didn’t just keep trying different ones. Iowa City said that most likely, from having my son, my body was now rejecting Humira. So they put me on a newer drug called Cimzia along with Indomethacin. It did the trick. It took a few weeks to start working, but I was feeling better again! But little did I know I would have to stop all medicine once again.
In November of 2014, I felt a lump in my left breast. I went to my OB\GYN, and he set me up for a mammogram and ultrasound if needed. As I was getting the mammogram done, the tech (who is a great friend of mine) said he was going to do an ultrasound as well. The radiologist came in to do the ultrasound, and in a matter of one look, he said he was going to do a core biopsy. I knew right away it was cancer. With this being the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, they put a rush on the biopsy so I didn’t have to wait so long for the results. I got called to come in and talk to them the day before Thanksgiving, and sure enough, I was positive for breast cancer. All I could think of was my little boys. I have a 1-year-old boy and a 2-year-old boy, but they are what is getting me through this. I had a double mastectomy with reconstruction done on December 15 and was released from the hospital the next day. All drains were removed just a week after surgery. I’m doing well and recovering very well. I will be seeing the oncologist this upcoming Friday to see what the next step will be with my journey. I have an excellent support team with me, as my mom is a 4-year survivor and my aunt is also a 3-time breast cancer survivor and lung cancer survivor. I worry my AS is going to take a toll on me soon, but as wonderful as all my doctors are, I know they will be able to help me with everything I am going through. I will continue to fight against both these diseases!!
The informational content of this article is intended to convey a personal experience and, because every person’s experience is unique, should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.
This story is intended to convey a personal experience and, because every person’s experience is unique, should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.