I celebrated my marriage on September 9, 2016. 305 days later, at age 31, I was diagnosed with Invasive Ductal Carcinoma - Breast Cancer. What started as a lump under my armpit led to the discovery of a tumor in my right breast. In the weeks after my diagnosis, I learned that I had Stage 3, grade 2 breast cancer with a large tumor and many affected lymph nodes in my right arm.
My tumor was estrogen and progesterone positive and HER2 negative and cancer did not spread to any other areas of my body. I was fortunate enough to seek treatment at the renowned Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota with a wonderful and talented team of doctors. As newlyweds, we were excited to begin starting a family, but this news has put our plans on hold. Luckily, before treatment started, we were able to go through a quick round of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) where we had successfully retrieved 33 eggs and ultimately had 19 embryos fertilize. This was just one of the many blessings we have had on our journey.
Courage and Strength During Treatment
The support from family and friends have been unreal. I am truly blessed with all the support I have been given - my cheerleaders are amazing! The cards and daily messages received were so motivating as well as the continued reminders that I have many prayers and positive vibes headed my way we so powerful.
The most challenging part for me was the fear of not being able to have children of our own and deal with the planning of how to ensure this is a possibility. I also had a very hard time losing my hair. I cried every day for the first 2 months until I finally had to shave it and 10 minutes after seeing myself in the mirror I had such a sense of relief, I was over it!
Words of Encouragement to Women Facing Cancer
One thing you can control is your attitude. That doesn't mean you can't have bad minutes, hours, days, but that waking up each morning trying to be optimistic can be so powerful.
What I Learned Facing Cancer
I have really learned who my true support system is. That means not only friends but family as well.
Before my diagnosis, I struggled with self-confidence and although I have tough days, I look in the mirror and am more proud of myself that I have ever been. I have tried to remember that the one thing I can control is my attitude and I try to stay as positive as I can.
My Courage Scarf
Opening the package with a scarf specifically picked for me was so special. After knowing I would survive, losing my hair was the hardest part of conquering this disease. I was so self-conscious of how I would look bald and knew I wasn’t going to be a wig person. I love wearing scarves to showcase my personality and style. Courage for the Soul has allowed me to express myself and feel comfortable at the same time!
My Favorite Inspirational Quote
My favorite inspirational quote is “Promise me you’ll always remember: you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, smarter than you think and twice as beautiful as you’d ever imagined.”
Before I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I could never imagine that I could do this…but you don’t always know what you have in you!