My mother died of lung cancer when she was 54, 6 weeks before my daughter was born. I was 26. When two of her sisters were diagnosed with breast cancer, I asked for a mammogram and BRCA test at age 35, even though doctors continued to tell me I was too young to worry about cancer. The BRCA test was not covered by insurance and I didn't have the $3,000 to cover it so I was not tested. Life got busy and I never had another mammogram, though I was having yearly annual exams with my GYN. Fast forward to early April, 2015 when at age 38 I found a lump.
My significant other Tyler urged me to get a mammogram quickly. We went to the doctor together, and when they asked him to join me for an ultrasound–being the self-proclaimed WebMD I am–I knew immediately something was wrong. By mid-April I was diagnosed with Stage IIIa Grade II IDC (ER/PR+, HER2-, BRCA-). I opted for a left mastectomy May 1 and have started treatment of 16 weeks of chemo and 30 radiation sessions. Thankfully my PET scan was negative, and I will have reconstructive surgery after treatment is complete. I turned out to be BRCA-, so a test years ago would not have predicted my breast cancer diagnosis.
I consider myself lucky to have the support of Tyler, my kids, and countless other family members and friends around me. Lucky to have a team of doctors that moved swiftly and continue to be honest with me. Lucky to work for a company that has been very supportive of the days I feel like working from home.
It is what it is. I cannot change the fact that I have cancer, but I can continue to fight and remain positive. I tell my story to inspire others to trust your gut, be your own healthcare advocate and find a team of doctors you trust implicitly. Educate yourself about breast cancer. Be supportive of others and their decisions. Laugh every day. Speak up. Smile.