What made me decide to go get tested? Because when I was 20 my 32 year old sister, Tracy, was diagnosed with stage 2b breast cancer. After watching my sister battle her disease and endure several metastases for 8 years and learning my family history I decided I wanted to know if I carried the gene. Both Tracy and I tested positive for the gene and while my two other sisters tested negative.
I had been given the opportunity to do something to prevent myself from ever getting a cancer diagnosis.
I could take the power away from cancer. So I scheduled a prophylactic double mastectomy for Jan ’09. However in Dec., while my sister lay sick and dying in the hospital ICU from her disease, a pre-surgery mammogram showed that at the age of 29 I had developed breast cancer. My surgery was bumped up a month and my family shuttled back and forth between my hospital and my sister’s.
I remember waking up after surgery and looking up at my doctor and asking if the cancer had invaded my lymph nodes. He smiled, told me no and it looks like I was stage 1. I happily fell back asleep knowing that I had a fighting chance and had saved my life by being so proactive about my health.
I met with my oncologist just a few weeks later and got the news
that I was triple negative, a very aggressive form of cancer. So the plan was made for me to endure 6 months and 16 rounds of chemotherapy. Hearing that I had to go through chemo ripped me apart. Chemo can wreak havoc on a woman’s ovaries and all I have ever wanted was to have a child of my own and now I was faced with the possibility that my dream may not come true.
With the knowledge that I now had an 86% percent chance of developing breast cancer before turning 70 and having seen everything my sister had gone through I realized that I had been given a rare gift.
On Feb 20th, 2009 my sister lost her battle with breast cancer just one week before I began my treatments.
On the morning of her wake I had 7 of my eggs retrieved and frozen as an “insurance policy” in case chemotherapy destroyed my ovaries, four hours later I was reading my sister’s eulogy.
I am now just a year out of chemotherapy and I have had two clean sets of scans and this Dec 5th I will be a 2 year breast cancer survivor. My hair is growing back, my body is on the mend but my heart will forever hold the cracks it endured not only from losing my sister but also losing part of my young life to cancer. There are times I feel guilty for being diagnosed so early and for still being here when my sister is not.
I feel horrible for causing my family even more pain and then there are times when I feel angry for all that cancer has either taken from me or tried to take from me. However I feel stronger each day and with all that I have been through and have learned I want to now help other young women who have been diagnosed much like the way so many other amazing young women helped me. Through my involvement with Young Survival Coalition, I have met so many strong and brave young women. I refuse to ever let cancer leave me feeling powerless again. And everything I do, I do to take the power back. I want to make sure cancer knows that it will never break me or my fight