I found a pea-sized lump under my left arm when I was 34 years old. I had no family history of cancer and had never had any health problems. When I found the lump, I went in for a mammogram. They saw nothing, but I knew something was off, so I asked for a biopsy. Three days later, on a Wednesday, I sat in my surgeon’s office and heard her say “It’s cancer and we need to take it out – soon.”
My options were a mastectomy or a double mastectomy. I had two children under ten so I chose the best fighting option for me – I chose the double mastectomy. And two days later, I had my breasts removed. I met my oncologist shortly after my surgery, and he was very clear.
“Look, they took 19 lymph nodes from your left arm and 14 were involved. Your cancer left the breast area and is in your lymph nodes. I can’t tell you how aggressive to be, but I will do what you want here. I would also suggest you get your affairs in order.”
My husband hugged me, cried and said “I will make sure our kids will always remember you.”
WHAT?!?! Why were these people so quick to bury me??
I chose aggressive chemo, radiation, tamoxifen, heparin, femara, etc. If my oncologist thought it would help, I tried it. I had to. I had two children depending on me, their mom, to be okay. While I was fighting to stay alive, I lost my breasts, my hair, friends, my husband, and gained a lot of weight. But I also gained strength, and five years later, I went ahead and had reconstruction.
Now, almost 15 years later, I remain NED and have had the privilege of watching my children become adults. My name is Monica, and I am a breast cancer survivor.
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.