Melissa Diagnosed at 25
My world was flipped upside down. I sat there as the doctor talked...All that I could pick up on were words like chemo, surgery, and radiation. I was so scared. Tears streamed down my face as my husband held me.
That week I found myself going to the hospital every day. It was overwhelming meeting with doctors and getting tests done. When I was first diagnosed, I was told that the chance of having kids naturally would decrease with chemotherapy, and it was suggested that I consider IVF treatment. So that was what I did first. I went through a couple of weeks of IVF to preserve some embryos in hopes that I can have a family one day, I got a port put in, and then I began 16 rounds of chemotherapy for stage II triple negative breast cancer. I went on a trial for extra chemo in hopes that I could help someone else in the future, and in the hope that I would get the extra drugs that would help fight the cancer. I was on multiple drugs and several different types of chemotherapy. I remember crying a couple of weeks into chemo as my hair started to fall out. I cried the whole weekend, but then I decided to throw a party, hire a henna artist, and cut all my hair off. (photo above from party) That's just what happened, and you know what? I ended the night with a smile on my face. That's how I hope this journey, as a cancer fighter, will end...with a smile on my face.
It's been so hard. Every day I wake up, and I put on my metaphorical boxing gloves on, and I try my hardest to punch fear in the face. I've been through a lot. Cancer is hard. Towards the end of chemo, I was so tired, and I could feel the toll chemo had put on my body with extreme fatigue, neuropathy issues, and nausea. I lost all my hair from head to toe. When I looked in the mirror, I saw cancer, but the hardest part wasn't even my own cancer. My dad was diagnosed with cancer shortly after I was, and unfortunately, he passed away. It was the darkest time in my life. It's still too soon to elaborate on what happened and my feelings, but I will say that once the dust settled, I looked up and realized that there was hope. I had my family by my side, and God had given me a sense of peace through the storm in my life. I can honestly say I couldn't have gotten through this without family and God's love and peace.
After chemo, I had a lumpectomy and then started radiation. I went through 33 rounds of radiation. Once you are diagnosed with cancer, your whole life changes. One of those changes was starting a business to help give back. Once I realized that I was going to lose my hair and I started chemo, I started to search for shirts and wigs to wear during chemo. I realized that a lot of the websites for cancer fighters made me feel old or out of place. There was a huge disconnect. So the idea of opening up my own shop was born.
My goal is to be there for young women who are facing a chronic illness or disease, like cancer. I am passionate about trying to spread hope and encourage others. I share my story in hopes to let other cancer survivors know that yes it's hard, but you can get through this.
I also share my story to bring awareness to Breast Cancer. I'm proof that you can get it at any age, so please check yourself every month! I found my lump by accident, I had an itch, but you need to be an advocate for your own health. After my surgery doctors have told me, I have no evidence of disease, and I am doing well. My hair has started to grow back, and I am starting to discover my new normal. As I enter a new season in life, I can look back and realize that while I hate cancer, I do not want to waste my cancer. I have faith that God has a plan for my life, and I plan to figure out what that is and live life to the fullest. Life is short, so we have to enjoy every minute of it.
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