Adrian Diagnosed at 41

"I want to educate other women about the importance of breast health. It is so important for women to know their bodies and to take action if they notice something unusual."

In addition to being a breast cancer survivor, I am a wife, mother, grandmother, sister, aunt, and friend. I was misdiagnosed for five months before being properly diagnosed in May 2011 at age 41 with inflammatory breast cancer, a rare and aggressive form of breast cancer.

A little red itchy spot turned into a very painful, itchy swollen, hot breast. I had a very big knot underneath my arm where the cancer had spread to my lymph nodes. The cancer also had spread to my chest wall. I could barely lift my arms and carrying my purse was a challenge. I would try to cook and found myself dropping pots. I knew something was wrong. Inflammatory breast cancer rarely shows up on mammograms, so I am grateful for being persistent. I have undergone 16 cycles of chemotherapy treatments and a bilateral mastectomy. I also had 37 radiation treatments, along with a full hysterectomy and reconstruction surgery.

During my treatment, I started a chapter of Sisters Network Inc., which is an African American breast cancer survivorship organization. I served as the president of the Miami Chapter until recently. I want to educate other women about the importance of breast health. It is so important for women to know their bodies and to take action if they notice something unusual. I am also an advocate for Inflammatory Breast Cancer Foundation. There are at least 13 different types of breast cancer. Education is key!

Being diagnosed with cancer can be devastating, especially when you are financially challenged. I was forced to retire because of this illness and, needless to say, my financial situation has really been hard. No matter what you may feel when you are sick, you will need help. Maybe not financially, but you will need support emotionally, and you will find it at YSC.

YSC has helped me tremendously and I am able to smile every day as I am learning, loving and laughing with my family and friends at my side.

In August 2014, I was re-diagnosed with a metastasis of breast cancer to the lymph nodes in my neck. I have to put my boxing gloves back on, but knowing there is help available, I will fight proudly.

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