March of 2011 on a Sunday, I woke up with this very sharp pain in my right breast. I was trying to reach to get something from the cabinet while feeling my right breast. I felt a lump. I ran upstairs and felt my left breast. I felt another lump. I was only 35 years old with no history of breast cancer in my family. I called my younger sister and told her that I felt a lump on both of my breasts. I asked her if she could feel my breasts and see if she feels the lumps. After she said yes, she told me to call for an appointment. I called and made a appointment at Kaiser Breast Clinic.
The doctor who examined me told me not to tell her where I felt the lumps because she wanted to find them herself. On my right breast, she was able to feel the lump, but not the one on my left one. She told me she thought it was a cyst or a benign tumor and she wanted me to get an ultrasound. The day I went for an ultrasound, the tech told me that the doctor also wanted me to get a mammogram. One test lead to another. Before I knew it, I had a double mastectomy on May 6. I was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer stage 3. On the right side, it had spread to my lymph nodes and outside of the casing of the lymph nodes. On the left side, I got lucky because it hadn’t spread to the lymph nodes.
The following month in June, I started chemo, which lasted six months. I finished one day before Thanksgiving. I received 28 radiation treatments. I was offered genetic testing and I tested positive for BRCA1. At this point, I just wanted to crawl into a deep hole. I have lymphedema in my right arm and nerve damage from chemo. I don’t think I ever asked ‘God, why me?’ I smiled through everything. I did cry, but not for myself; for my two girls. I didn’t want them to grow up without me. My mom and my sisters put their lives on hold so they could take care of me. My poor mom cried for me, but she would try to put a smile to be strong for me. The hardest part of me having cancer was watching my mom hurt so much for me.
I lost all my hair, eyelashes, and eyebrows. I didn’t feel like myself anymore. I hated to look in the mirror because I didn’t recognize myself anymore. I have been with my husband since I was 16, but my cancer tested our relationship. He was very supportive but also very angry with me. Later, I found out he was so angry because he felt helpless. I am so grateful for my mom, sisters, my husband, and my kids. I didn’t let cancer control my life. I realized how beautiful our world is. I am much happier than before. I am so blessed. Everyday is a struggle, but I am so happy that I can get up in the morning and go to work. I remember when I was going through chemotherapy how sick I felt, and I used to cry and pray that God would please let me wake up one morning and not feel so sick. So now when I wake up and I don’t feel that sick, I know I am blessed.
I still need my reconstructive surgery. I do miss my breasts, but I can wait. I learned that we are our own critics. There are days when I feel bad that I don’t have breasts, but I am more happy that I am alive.
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.