The day before I was to leave for a month long trip to Ecuador, I found a lump in my right breast. I never felt anything there before, so the rather large lump seemed to come up from nowhere. By the time I had the ultrasound and biopsy six weeks later, it had grown to over five cm.
On December 3, 2012, at 41 years old, I heard the dreadful words, “You have cancer.” It’s invasive ductal carcinoma, stage III to be exact. It had also went into my lymph nodes.
At this point in my life, I never even considered getting cancer, so I had no idea what my life would be going forward. There were so many things I did not know about breast cancer besides the symbolic pink ribbon.
I stayed positive and knew I had to win this battle. Since I am a writer, I journaled about my experience. I also connected with other survivors, and discovered helpful resources for those with cancer. I went through chemotherapy and all the fun side effects that go with that. In addition, I stopped eating processed foods, and switched to a mostly whole foods, vegetarian diet. I focused on the positive and eliminated any stress in my life.
I was unable to work during this time, so times got tough, but I had great support to help me make ends meet and keep a smile on my face. After the chemo was complete, the tumor had completely disappeared. A few weeks later, I had a lumpectomy and 18 lymph nodes removed – pathology report: cancer-free! I had kicked it’s butt.
Six weeks after the surgery, I began twenty-five rounds of daily radiation. Even though the cancer was gone, this treatment helps with survival rates and recurrence. On July 16th, I completed my last treatment. From the moment I was diagnosed, I had received kindness from family, friends, and complete strangers. I gained a whole new perspective on what is important in life. Funny how a serious illness can do that.I also decided I would write a book to help those who are newly diagnosed. I want to help others who are going through this scary time in life. You are not alone, there are so many resources and organizations who can help. My story will also help those who experience the same emotional roller coaster. Again, you are not alone.
After a cancer diagnosis, your life is never the same. Not everyone gets that. It was a tough battle, but I survived. I never want the cancer to return, so I fight like a girl every day.
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.
Awesome Julie! Thanks for sharing! Your optimism during this experience was so inspiring. So proud to call you my friend 🙂
Way to Fight Like a Girl Julie! Continue to be strong and happy : )
Wishing you confined health! Thanks for sharing your experience.