STAGE AT DIAGNOSIS: 2
ER DIAGNOSIS: Negative
PR DIAGNOSIS: Negative
HER2 DIAGNOSIS: Positive
In Her Own Words…
Where to start? 22 years ago at 25 years old I went paralyzed on the entire left side of my body after a lot of tests and a hospital stay I was diagnosed with MS. I started a drug study about 10 years ago but after a few years in, I ended up getting kicked out of the study because I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Needless to say that drug didn’t make it to market. I was 39 years old when I found a lump and went to get my first and only mammogram followed by a biopsy. A few days later I was told it was in fact cancer which I already knew in my gut. In the first 5 minutes, I asked if it had spread and if I was going to die. My breast surgeon and nurse navigator said we don’t think it’s spread and you’re not going to die.
So I said I need a piece of paper and a pen. I wrote down all of my 5k runs, my trip to Vegas, the Indianapolis Mini Marathon, Gay Pride month, and my 40th birthday trip to Mexico with my tribe. My tribe is a group of girls that I’ve grown up with as far back as kindergarten and even before in church. We had been planning it for 3 years so I didn’t want to miss it. Then they did my genetic testing which of course came back clear as I don’t have a family history only a medicine history. Then a few more tests to find out what the plan of attack would be.
They said I had stage 2 IDC grade 3 and said I’ll have to do chemo, surgery, and then radiation. I said nope I’m not doing radiation and was told I couldn’t do a lumpectomy which led to cutting my entire breast off. Never did I imagine how big of an impact that decision would have on my life. I said if you’re taking one you’re taking them both because my balance is already bad due to my MS so I don’t need another reason to fall down. That decision would not only save me countless surgeries, and possible breast implant illnesses that can come with any implants.
I started a group last October with another Flat friend called Flat Out Love which now has about 2500 members all across the world. I figured out how to do an interactive map so Flatties all over the world could connect with another Flattie near them. It has been something pretty amazing to watch. Then on Oct 7th, International Flat Day we will have 130 Flatties coming to the Grand Mesa. This will be the largest Flatties meetup on the largest Flat Top mountain.
I couldn’t be more grateful to my cancer. Yes, cancer sucks and sucks bad a lot of times. It’s also such an amazing blessing and will make you bitter or better. I was a window salesperson for 14 years until my legs got so bad I couldn’t walk without assistance about 5 years ago because the chemo caused my MS to get bad. I did my last mini marathon with my walker and when my legs would go dead, I’d sit on the walker and a friend would push me.
Now I’m a comedian, actor, motivational humorist, ordained minister, poker player, Jumble Puzzle cartoon character, Cannabis activist, and Flat activist. I couldn’t be happier about where my path has led me because I love helping people. So if I’m not helping them by making them laugh, I’m helping them feel whole again by finding other Flatties near them to not feel so alone. It’s my goal to Normalize Flat as much as possible by being seen, and heard, and for others to get educated about all of their choices. That means if they choose Flat they don’t leave extra skin.
Get To Know Lissa…
What has been the most challenging part of your journey?
The most challenging part of my journey would by far have to be my MS. After chemo, my MS got so bad I could barely walk without assistance. That assistance came in many different forms including friends, a cane, a walker, a wheelchair, and a mobility scooter.
What is your superpower?
My superpower would be SISU. Sisu is a unique Finnish concept. It is a Finnish term that can be roughly translated into English as strength of will, determination, perseverance, and acting rationally in the face of adversity. Sisu is not momentary courage, but the ability to sustain that courage.
What is your favorite movie?
My favorite movie would be Rounders as I’m a poker player. My favorite one-person show is In And Of Itself & my favorite show is and will always be Baskets on FX/Hulu. I’m very partial as Zach Galifianakis & Louie Anderson were the main characters. Louie was one of the most incredible humans to ever walk this earth, so yeah that makes me biased. Well, that and I’m in an episode.
What your spirit animal?
I guess the shark, I had to take a test to find out. After reading about the shark as my spirit animal, it’s pretty accurate.
What is your favorite food?
Chocolate but you didn’t say dessert, so I’ll say pizza.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Everywhere would be my answer to where. I want to see everything once.
What is your favorite quote?
People always say yolo, you only live once, take the chance. YOLO is totally wrong, you only die once, we live every day. TAKE ALL THE CHANCES. YODO! You only die once!
What I want all breast cancer patients to know…
I want all breast cancer patients to know about all of their options! Especially when it comes to reconstruction. Women are pressured and sometimes forced into getting reconstruction because they are led to believe there is no way someone can live without breasts. I’m not against reconstruction at all, I am against people getting it without knowing all of the options and risks.
Breast implants can cause Breast Implant Illness causing some to be sick with things like MS, Lupus, or any autoimmune disease. I’m not against implants because I smoked for 23 years and knew the risks. As long as someone is educated on those risks, the extra surgeries, and everything that can come along with them while still choosing to get them, it’s their choice. There are a lot of things I could talk about that I wish everyone knew. Why doesn’t every hospital have nurse navigators? Some of these hospitals are not ready to help the patient as well as they should be.
We have to normalize Flat, too many are putting their bodies through so much just to have “boobs” that can become full of mold. If people knew all of their choices and the risks and benefits of each, there would be so many more patients not wanting to risk it.
People need to remember life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to the situation. Advocate for yourself, no one else will.
— Lissa Sears