STAGE AT DIAGNOSIS: 3 (at diagnosis. Currently in remission)
ER DIAGNOSIS: Positive
PR DIAGNOSIS: Positive
HER2 DIAGNOSIS: Negative
In Her Own Words…
I was diagnosed in 2018, initially stage 3, with lymph node involvement, grade 3. ER+PR+ HER2-. After further examination, doctors explained that the behavior of my cancer was unique in the sense of aggression of a Her2+ although being negative. They wanted me to start treatment immediately, so they gave me 2 weeks to complete fertility preservation since I had not had children and voiced my desire to become a mother one day. With help from family and friends we were able to raise funds for the treatments as unfortunately it’s not covered by insurance.
Then I was also put in a clinic trial where immunotherapy was administered alongside conventional chemotherapy. Everything you can imagine going wrong did, I was allergic to the chemotherapy drug and went into anaphylactic shock on my 3rd treatment. Luckily my cousin was there with me and realized I couldn’t not breathe and called the nurses over and they started working on stabilizing me. After that incident my infusion treatments went from 4-5 hours to 8-9 hours because they doubled all my premeds and slowed the drip of infusion to prevent another allergic reaction.
I was not able to work, and I was afraid of losing my job and insurance. A couple weeks after my last infusion of active treatment, six months after my treatment began, I ended up in the ICU in critical condition. I lost my pancreatic function and adrenal glands function due to treatment and was considered in adrenal crisis and DKA. I was discharged a week later. That in itself was and has been life altering.
I was restaged after chemo / immunotherapy to stage 2 and no long had lymph node involvement. I had a surgery to remove the cancer along with 11 lymph nodes. The following year I did 30 rounds of radiation and had reconstruction in 2020. I tried to be on hormone therapy as requested by my oncologist however it affected me tremendously causing my quality of life to be extremely low, so I opted not to continue.
I now live as a chronically ill person but I am in remission and yes every day is different and I have good days and bad but I get to be here, I get to live and I don’t take that for granted.
Get To Know Melina…
What has been the most challenging part of your journey?
Not knowing anyone like me. A lot of people have their cancer journey and that alone changes your life but losing my pancreatic function and adrenal gland function was really really hard. I have no words that can describe that.
What is your superpower?
I’m a animal whisperer (at least I’d like to think so, not sure what they think of me haha).
What is your theme song?
What is your favorite movie?
What your spirit animal?
What is your favorite food?
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be?
What is your favorite quote?
What I want all breast cancer patients to know…
It’s okay not be okay. It’s okay to ask for help. It’s okay to ask questions and it’s okay to say no.
The breast cancer community is made up of so many amazing people who beyond everything they have gone through or are still going through will take the time from their day and whatever energy they may have to reach out and just let you know they are thinking of you. That love, that humanity just amazes me. I am extremely lucky to be connected to them.
— Melina Gonzalez