My family is riddled with all different types of cancers; both alive and dead from head to toe. Because of this, I have been getting mammograms since I was 30.
My doctor called me in the next day and told me: it was cancer - invasive intra-ductal carcinoma. I didn't know what he meant.
I got hot and instantly cold. I was sweating and my mouth got dry.
All the things happened at once. I was so confused.
When I went in for my mammogram, I went in to get my gold star, my green check mark to say "I did it, I went for my mammogram." Every time I'd gone in before, they told me I was too young to be there, and that helped me with my anxiety. So I had no worries.
But I needed to push to get a mammogram. I didn't want to be right for forcing my way into getting approvals and referrals for getting a mammogram at such a young age, but I was right to demand these things for myself. I was my own health advocate.
On September 4, 2020, I was diagnosed with Stage 2, HER2+ breast cancer at the age of 34.
From there on everything was a blur.
My first chemo cycle was October 8th, on the anniversary of my first date with my husband. Within this crazy month, we did IVF, I had my port placement surgery, a CT scan, a PET scan, an MRI, a lymph node biopsy and an egg retrieval. It was a busy month.
I started chemotherapy, and my hair was falling out very quickly. So on Halloween, my husband shaved my head. Next, I have my double mastectomy with reconstruction scheduled for March 2nd, 2021.
While I am scared and very nervous, I am looking forward to moving this process along and being fully treated. My son is nearly two years old and this has been a lot. It’s scary. I don’t want to die. I just want to grow a healthy family and go to work, earn my paycheck and be a good mom. But there was an extra card in my deck.
After surgery, I will have radiation and ten rounds of immunotherapy. I should be finished with everything in October, which would be 13 months since diagnosis. How ironic, given it's breast cancer awareness month, and I technically wasn't even old enough to get a mammogram.
I have studied and obsessed over the choices I have made in my life up to the moment of diagnosis and wonder what I did to cause this. The doctors say there is nothing I did, but my mind still wanders there from time to time.
You can’t choose your family, but you can choose your breast cancer family. And for me that now includes my breasties which include many breast cancer support groups and women, as well as my AYA (Adolescent and Young Adult) cancer family.
I have taken this time to educate as many people as I can that cancer doesn’t discriminate and doesn’t recognize age. So be your own health advocate and know your body. Have a baseline so you can recognize the difference.
Oh and live the shit out of this life because we only get one.