On May 1, 2014, I was diagnosed with triple positive breast cancer (DCIS & IDC) stage 1A (ie. lymph node negative). This does not run in my family, nor did I test positive for BRCA or any other presently known genetic factor. I found the lump (IDC) myself via a wardrobe malfunction, and the doctors were shocked because I was only 32 years old. However, early diagnosis was the reason I am still here. So do your self exams ladies! Even if you think you’re too young, you’re not.
Given that I was triple positive (ER+/PR+/her2neu+) I knew my treatment would be intense, as her2+ cancers are quite aggressive. Thank goodness for my drive to fight, an amazing team of doctors, and the miraculous advances in medicine today. What would have been a death sentence 10 years ago gives me about a 77-87% chance of 5-year DFS with my treatment plan.
I underwent 2 lumpectomies (with clean margins the second time), a sentinel lymph node biopsy, and had a port implanted on May 29, 2014. My odds were the same with a lumpectomy vs. a mastectomy, and I opted for conservation at this early stage and young age.
Two weeks after surgery, I began 12 rounds of chemotherapy and immunotherapy (Taxol & Herceptin) in tandem. Studies suggest great survival rates pairing these two for her2+ cancer. I had my last chemo August 27, 2014 and will have my last Herceptin on June 11, 2015!
1 week after chemotherapy ended, I began 30 rounds of WBR (whole breast radiation), along with endocrine therapy (tamoxifen) for 10 years. I opted for the UK method, as it allows for fewer treatments with a higher dose. This allowed me keep working through all my treatment and save money, but it was exhausting.
I am now approaching the 2nd to last Herceptin treatment, and I have added Lupron (OFS) to my endocrine therapy as of last week, given the amazing results from the soft and test trials.
The latest news: I had a clean mammogram last week, and I could not be happier! It’s been a rough road, and I’ve had to compromise a lot (for a now 33-year-old), but it’s worth all the pain, scars, and tears. I’m alive. I manage the side effects through nutrition, exercise, meditation, and medication. I recommend seeing an integrative medicine MD as you near the end of the adjuvant treatment to help you understand what can help you cope long term. I also highly recommend seeing a counselor/therapist to help you work through some of the tough choices you will have to make.
I also know that, although I can’t have children, I can adopt a lovely child if I feel that urge one day. There are so many to love out there, and they don’t need to come from these ovaries for that. 😉
For those of you young women in your thirties out there going through this, or those of you supporting a young woman going through this, I say, just keep going! You can do it! Fight and never surrender!
And always remember, don’t take life so seriously. It’s not like you’re getting out 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.