In 2008, at 25 years old, I noticed a lump in my right breast. I had an ultrasound that showed only swollen tissue. Because I was so young I was sent home with antibiotics for mastitis (an infection of the breast).
After I completed the medication, the lump was still there so I returned to my doctor. It wasn’t until I had an MRI done that I was diagnosed with stage III HER2 positive breast cancer at 25 years old. I immediately began chemotherapy which made me lose all my hair. I bought a wig and continued working as a psychiatric nurse in a hospital. After 6 months I had a bilateral mastectomy and as soon as the incisions healed I began 6 weeks of radiation. After all of that I had to remain on a medication called Herceptin for a year to prevent recurrence.
It took me a long time to stop feeling like a patient and start feeling like a survivor. I enrolled in college to obtain a bachelors in nursing and was working full time again. However, it was very short-lived. About 6 months after completing Herceptin therapy, I noticed a lump by the scar on the right side of my chest. They performed a biopsy and a PET scan to see if it was cancerous. The biopsy of that area was negative for cancer, but the PET scan showed the cancer had returned and was now metastatic. It was in my lungs and lymph nodes all over my body.
I approached treatment this time with a fighter’s attitude. I found a wonderful oncologist who told me that while my cancer was incurable, his goal was to keep me alive. Since recurrence in early 2010 I completed my bachelors degree while undergoing continuous chemotherapy and working. There are constant ups and downs…one chemo doesn’t work forever. I received four standard chemo regimens and am now on my second clinical trial.
As long as there is chemotherapy available and clinical trials on the horizon I will continue to fight. I am a 28 year old married mother of 3 children, I am not giving up. I don’t call my cancer terminal—I call it chronic. And I will continue to fight like a girl!
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.