In August of 2015, at the age of 30, I was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of breast cancer, also known as triple negative breast cancer. During all of the tests that I had undergone at the time, I found out that I had the BRCA 1 gene. I reviewed my family’s medical history and eventually discovered that this gene was passed down from my paternal grandfather. He unfortunately died from a form of breast cancer that spread to his stomach.
At the time of my diagnosis, my daughters were 9 and 2 years-old. As soon as I heard the words of the doctor confirming I had cancer, my immediate thoughts were, What about my babies?! What if I die?! How am I going to tell them? So many thoughts flooded my brain and I felt like time stood still at that very moment. All I wanted was for things to go back to normal! The pain and hurt that I felt was so indescribable and could never be put into words.
My treatment began in September, not long after my diagnosis. Those countless rounds of chemotherapy were some of the most excruciating days of my life. Nothing tasted the same, everything smelled awful, and I was constantly nauseous and vomiting. I ended up being hospitalized after every chemotherapy session due to dehydration and stomach pain. I felt like quitting! I was surrounded by loved ones and being encouraged by so many people. Despite that, it was still me that had to go through the misery and fight against the illness.
Once I finished chemotherapy months later, there were still more hard decisions to make. I had to make the choice to have a double mastectomy and a partial hysterectomy. It was just as hard going through that. As if it wasn’t bad enough that I was bald and felt ugly; I then had to amputate parts of my womanhood. My surgeries came and went and I cried for many weeks afterwards. I especially hated that my husband had to assist me in the shower. As he would help me, I would cry like a baby, hoping he wouldn’t see the tears falling down my face. I felt like Frankenstein, and I felt so ugly and broken!
After the mastectomy, I had to learn all over again how to lift my arms, wipe myself, brush my hair, etc. I had to regain what strength I could. Unfortunately, to this day, I’m not able to do many of the things the way I could before. Life didn’t go back to the way it was before. I was so brokenhearted that I couldn’t have anymore children. It was all so overwhelming and there was nothing anyone can do to make the process any easier. The only good thing that came from chemotherapy and the multiple surgeries after was that I was finally in remission.
As grateful as I was for getting another chance, I was still struggling immensely with the emotions left behind by the experience. No one tells you that when you get so caught up in fighting for your life, you don’t really cope with all the emotions that come from trying to live and heal. Or the fact that you almost died. Eventually, I began to get some normalcy back in my life.
Despite this, I was always scared of the cancer coming back. It felt like a monster under the bed that could jump out at me at any given moment. Only I knew what it felt like to go through the hell I was so traumatized by. So, of course I was scared! I had many loved ones even judge me for thinking that way. One person even had the nerve to tell me once that I needed to just “get over it”. They just didn’t understand.
Fast forward to March of 2020 when my worst nightmare became a reality. I found another lump during one of my self check ups. I was diagnosed with the same type and stage of breast cancer as the first time. My world once again had fallen apart. I had to go through chemotherapy all over again, and this time, radiation too. Lots of people told me it was going to be a piece of cake, since I had already gone through it once. Little did they know, it was just as bad and almost worse than the first time!
We were also living in a pandemic at the time, so I had to pretty much go through everything alone: surgeries, procedures, and hospital stays. It was so hard to fight through it the second time. I even quit treatment once and had to take some time off. I didn’t want to go back. With my faith and God’s grace, I pushed through, finished treatment, and I was able to beat cancer once again.
I am now a two time breast cancer survivor! Although I suffer from permanent damage, anxiety, and many other awful symptoms, I am beyond grateful to have more time with my loved ones. God gave me these battles because he knew I was strong enough to fight through them.
If you are currently battling through this awful disease, don’t ever give up and be kind to yourself. Take things one day at a time. Do what’s best for you and don’t lose hope. You are loved, beautiful, and a courageous warrior. There is light at the end of the tunnel, my pink sisters. God bless you all!
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.