#WeAreAllTheFaceofBreastCancer This October
BRCA+ HER2+ | STAGE 3
In Her Own Words…
In my own words, my story starts like this. I took a yoga class that led me to make a doctor’s appointment to assess the hard-moving painful lumps that I discovered on my own. I was told I was too young, but an ultrasound was ordered. Lacking urgency, I didn’t make the ultrasound appointment until five months later. In one day, I had an ultrasound, my first mammogram, 3 biopsies and pretty much received my diagnosis on the spot. I waited the weekend before I met the “team.” The team that I would be with for the next year of my life. This was not how I thought turning 30 was going to be.
I received my treatment calendar and at the same time I found out that the family history of breast cancer I understood was larger than I knew. Given the family history, I was tested and confirmed positive for the BRCA gene mutation. Knowing that chemotherapy was coming first, the team suggested freezing my eggs and creating embryos. Starting a family was on our minds and we were being told that it had to be put on hold, well really frozen. I completed an egg retrieval and then began my first chemotherapy treatment.
The side effects of chemotherapy stunk! For me, water had the taste of butter, napping became a norm, and hair loss happened quickly. Wasn’t I already losing enough by eventually having my breasts chopped off? I made it through the “bad” chemo and continued on Herceptin for the Her2 diagnosis. Surgery came and went. I remember looking at my real breasts and the next thing I knew I had purple lines all over me and I was waking up in a bed groggy with family asking questions. It wasn’t often that I saw family or friends. It was mostly in a chemo chair or in a hospital bed. Of course, there were exceptions.
Treatment ended exactly a year from my diagnosis date. I was diagnosed on February 20, 2015, and I completed Herceptin on February 23, 2016. It’s amazing the dates that are ingrained in your head. After this, began the part of the story many don’t know or understand. The doctor checkups went from every three weeks to every three months to every six months. I continued on tamoxifen with hot flashes on and off each week. I tried going back into the work office and work life had changed without me. It was hard to transition back without the support I once had. I started having panic attacks on top of the anxiety I already had even before my cancer diagnosis. I wasn’t sure about where I fit in with family, friends, and at work. I started to look at my body more in the mirror. What were these scars from the collarbone to my abdomen? Was my hair coming back black and curly? What happened to my long blonde hair? Would my husband and I be able to grow our family? Would my husband still love me? So many questions each and every day!
I am six years from diagnosis and over five years from completing my treatment. For me, the five-year mark was a celebration! I made it! The story continues as my husband and I struggle to have a second child after a complicated experience having our first child with egg donors and surrogates. With an estrogen-positive diagnosis and BRCA mutation, I have had my fallopian tubes and one ovary(due to a cyst) removed and will soon have my other ovary removed. My hope is that my story will go on for many more years. I am doing my best to make sure that it’s not just about breast cancer, but also about being a mom and a wife, a breast cancer advocate, an entrepreneur, and a resilient young woman that is going to make a difference!
What has been the most challenging part of your journey?
The most challenging part has been survivorship. Treatment for me was like a walk in the park. I knew what life mostly looked like for one full year. It started with chemotherapy, then breast surgery, then radiation, and starting tamoxifen. Then my hair started to come back, my reconstruction took place and my scars and burns started to heal. To everyone in my world, I was cured. Yes, I was in remission which was a beautiful word to hear, but just because I didn’t look sick didn’t mean that I was better. I may have physically been through the wringer, but no one tells you about the mental and emotional toll cancer can take on someone.
What one thing you want all breast cancer patients to know?
Your body will change and go through many phases. Your relationships will change and go through challenges. Be kind to your body and love yourself. Self-care is so important physically, emotionally, and mentally!
What is your superpower?
My superpower would be reading people’s minds or flying! I’m always thinking I can’t read your mind, please tell me. How awesome would it be to know what someone had on their mind! Also, I can walk, run and swim, but how fun would it be to fly!
What is your theme song?
This is a great question, but really tough. At first, I was thinking 80s or 90s rock songs because these are my go-to jams! I went through my playlists listening to “It’s My Life” by Bon Jovi and “Be Ok” by Ingrid Michaelson. I then came across “Glorious” by Macklemore (feat. Skylar Grey) and the words “I feel glorious, glorious. Got a chance to start again. I was born for this, born for this. It’s who I am, how could I forget. I made it through the darkest part of the night and now I see the sunrise” sang to me. This is where I am in my life. I’m ready for the sunrises and feeling good about starting again as a mom, entrepreneur, wife, and ME!!
What is your favorite movie?
What is your go-to snack?
Bobo’s chocolate chip oatmeal bar
What your spirit animal?
I truly didn’t know how to answer this so I took a “what’s your spirit animal quiz.” I was amazed to be told that my spirit animal is a turtle and I am fully on board with this answer.
What is your favorite food?
My favorite food is probably brownies! I’ve loved them since I was little and they are still so yummy!
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be?
This is a tough question. I am curious and want to know what’s out there. There are so many places I’ve been to and would like to go back. There are so many places I haven’t been that are on the “wish list.” If someone asked me to travel somewhere today I would have to say Spain so that I could travel to Barcelona and Madrid and then go back to Palma de Mallorca where some of the most beautiful hidden beaches can be found!
“If you can’t fly, then run. If you can’t run, then walk. If
you can’t walk, then crawl, but by all means, keep moving.”
— Martin Luther King, Jr.
WE ARE ALL THE FACE OF BREAST CANCER