Kokomo’s Breast Cancer Survivors & Fighters Share Personal Journeys
In 2012, an annual mammogram detected triple-negative breast cancer, which accounts for about 10 to 15% of all breast cancers, and refers to the cancer cells that test negative for estrogen and progesterone receptors, as well as the protein called HER2. The biggest challenge I had was that my husband was very sick at the time of my diagnosis, and passed away on the day of my last chemo session. What got me through was support from my sister, co-workers and friends. Have someone go with you to your appointments. You are bound to forget some things the doctor is telling you. Keep wearing a smile and keep wearing your lipstick. You may feel very bad, but don’t let your appearance drag you down.
After learning I had triple-negative breast cancer this February, I had surgery right before the coronavirus-related shutdowns in March. I’m blessed with a job that has allowed me to work from home and throughout chemo. I was unaware, until my diagnosis, that one in eight women will fight this battle. My advice to others is pray. Having a personal relationship with Jesus, my savior, has been paramount in my healing and success as a patient. Don’t be discouraged with your diagnosis. Learn all you can about your specific type of cancer. Find nutritional supplements to fill the gaps, especially when you don’t feel like eating. Surround yourself with positive people and join a support group. Look for the joy in everything.
I never felt a lump in my breast, but actually had pain in that spot. I was diagnosed in August of 2019 by telephone, two days before my birthday. The biggest challenge during treatment was understanding exactly what was happening to me. It was critical for me to find a breast specialist. My Son, Ian Jack, was my focus through the whole process. Finding out I had breast cancer at 37, with a three-year-old son, really put me into survival mode. It didn’t really sink in that I had cancer until after my double mastectomy. Be sure that you know all of your options before making decisions. Reach out to people who understand. Reach out to family. How you go through this journey is your choice. Being your own advocate is necessary, especially when you are under the recommended age for mammograms and you know something is wrong.
I’m now almost 30 and I was diagnosed at 26. It came as a total shock. It’s not in my family so there were no family genes to cause it. Over that summer I had six rounds of chemo and a double mastectomy. What kept me going was that I wanted to be back at Western where I was teaching art. It’s hard to explain, but you get in your own head and you can’t escape. The desire to be back in the classroom was what kept me going forward. I found out I was cancer-free on Halloween of 2017. I ran down to the office and made an announcement. Even though classroom doors were closed, cheering was heard in the hallways.
I won’t lie – it was the hardest four years of my life. I had reconstructive surgery and ended up with implants that were then recalled. After that, I had numerous health problems. If you’re looking for a sunny story, I am not your girl. If you want the truth about the lack of continuity within electronic medical records, I am your girl. I went through aggressive treatment while working and raising two kids alone. It was always pink ribbons and support, everywhere I turned.
I got engaged in December of 2018 and then found out in February of 2019 that I had breast cancer. I planned my wedding in two weeks, and got married right before I had a double mastectomy and started 28 rounds of radiation. This May, a reoccurrence was found. I’m currently pregnant and since they were monitoring me so closely, a pregnancy complication was found. I will be in the hospital until my baby is born. Faith keeps me going. I know there is a greater plan. Initially, my thought was to keep to myself, but people can’t support or pray for you if they don’t know. I now encourage people to tell the story of the mountain they climbed to help others climb theirs.
When I was 42, I had my first 3D mammogram in August. Nothing was detected, but two days later I felt a lump. I was told it was probably nothing since it didn’t show up on the mammogram, but it was still there in November. After two ultra sounds, four tumors were found in my left breast. 3 of them were cancer. The tumor I could feel wasn’t easy to find. Pay attention to your body, you know it better than anyone else. If I wasn’t persistent, my cancer wouldn’t have been found. I had a double mastectomy and take hormone blockers. I’m very thankful that I found it when I did because I ended up having precancerous cells in my other breast and microscopic cells in a lymph node. I feel I was put through this to show women how important it is to pay attention to your body and don’t be afraid to speak up!