Q: How old were you when you were diagnosed with breast cancer?
A: Age 32
Q: What was/is your diagnosis?
A: Stage 2B, Invasive Ductal Carcinoma Triple Negative, BRCA 1 +
Q: Can you describe some of the feelings that came with your diagnosis?
A: I mostly felt afraid of the unknown. I had no idea what to expect and that was scary. I felt so overwhelmed in the beginning and dreaded so many appointments, scans and etc. A new diagnosis certainly shocks you back to reality real quick. It was a paradigm shift and helped us keep perspective on things that actually mattered.
Q: Are you still in treatment? Or how long did treatment take?
A: I completed treatment in December of 2016. Roughly 9 months of active treatment.
Q: What type of treatment did you go through?
A: 16 rounds of chemo (taxol/carbo, AC), double mastectomy, radiation, and reconstruction. I also had an oophorectomy in September of 2019.
Q: Tell us how you felt during treatment. In real words.
A: Treatment was tough. It was physically and emotionally exhausting. I had to create small, short term goals and slowly checked the boxes of crap I had to do off. I did a lot of mindfulness exercises, envisioning the hardest part of treatment to be behind me. As difficult as that time was, I felt lucky to feel incredibly supported through it all. I met a lot of folks significantly more sick than I was. It made me grateful for feeling as well as I did, seeing and knowing it could have been much worse.
Q: Did you have any cravings?
A: It was really bizarre that I craved ice coffee. I’m not a coffee drinker, but in the mornings, I had such a terrible metallic taste in my mouth from chemo that I craved a strong tasting beverage to rid that yucky taste. So, I had several caramel iced coffee drinks throughout treatment.
Q: Did anything completely turn you off?
A: I was really lucky that my taste buds didn’t change very much throughout treatment and my normal likes/dislikes stayed pretty much the same.
Q: Describe your support system during your journey.
A: I was a newly wed when first diagnosed. I felt incredibly lucky to have my sweet, kind, caring DanBear to take such good care of me throughout treatment and the emotional aspects after a diagnosis. My family, close friends and the positivity of the caring medical staff helped carry me through with kindness and laughter. And my two fur babies, Cheeto and Martin Scorsese. The cats selflessly made themselves available for pets, snuggles and naps.
Q: Have any of your relationships changed since experiencing breast cancer?
A: A cancer diagnosis is heavy stuff. It was a little too much for a few friends to support me through, which is fine, it’s a lot to go through. Some friends and family stayed away and weren’t able to help support through the heaviness of the journey. And that’s OK!
Q: Have you gained new friends since your diagnosis?
A: Heck yes! I’ve gained several new friends throughout treatment and support groups after. They are wonderfully supportive and provide an understanding that others, who have not experienced something similar can relate to.
Q: Use some descriptive words to describe your breast cancer experience.
A: I would choose humbling, surrender and at times helpless. By the end, I’d choose the words brave, strong and resilient.
Q: How has your life changed for the better since your diagnosis?
A: I feel more confident in my abilities to cope and overcome difficulties than I did, pre-diagnosis. Nothing challenged me like a health diagnosis did. But I gained introspection and quickly learned that we are so much more than just our bodies. Mostly, I became more aware of the support people might need when facing difficulties.