Brandi Diagnosed at 31

"During my third pregnancy I found a lump on my right breast."

During my third pregnancy I found a lump on my right breast.  I was only 31 years of age so both myself and my doctor thought it was just a clogged duct and we would just continue to watch.  Well, as time went on it become bigger, to the point where you could see it without touching it.  I happened to change doctors in the last month of my pregnancy and once I had my son my new doctor had me go in for all the scans to determine what was going on.  Once the mammogram and ultrasound was done we knew it was suspicious and I needed a bio immediately. 

On August 26, 2008 I was given the news that I had breast cancer and would need to decide if I wanted a lumpectomy or mastectomy.  My surgeon gave me a week to think on it and what would be best for me and my situation.  After long conversations with my husband and close family I decided the only option was to have the breast removed completely.  I underwent a full right mastectomy a few weeks later and then met with an oncologist to find out the results and what was going to be my next step.  I was told that it had reached the lymph nodes and that my breast cancer was considered triple negative.  Well, I understand the lymph nodes, but what the heck is triple negative?  Is that good or bad?  The first visit I didn’t clearly understand everything that was being told to me and was afraid to ask too many questions, because I didn’t want to come off as a woman that didn’t know things about her body.  What I did understand was that I was going to have to endure four months of chemotherapy and the first four treatments were going to be double dosed and that would ensure sickness and hair loss. I didn’t care about the hair, but did care about the sickness because I was the mother of three boys, one of which was just a few months old by this time. I guess this was going to be my true test of strength as a mother. The first few treatments were no joke; they were awful, but I got through them. With the help of my mother, husband, and three boys I was able to get through it and conquer.
 
So, I got through a mastectomy and chemotherapy. We were celebrating that I had gotten through it. I felt good and was ready to start running and doing all the other things that I love to do again.  Well, not so fast. Through all the fantastic checkups you have to continue to go through they found pre cancerous cells in my uterus.  Ok? “So what, take it out” was my thought. Yes it sucks that I am being forced to stop having children, but what is important is staying around for the ones I already have. “Take the uterus” was my thought and if it means stopping more from spreading then go right ahead. So, we went ahead and I had a partial hysterectomy to take care of the problem.
 
One month to the day I went in for my standard check up with my oncologist.  I went in thinking no problem let’s make this quick so I can get home with the family. Went through the blood work and x rays, as normal, and talked to the doctor. He told me that he hadn’t got the reports back, but to go on my way and if something shows up he will give me a call. My middle son and I pulled out of the parking lot and my phone rang with the doctor’s number on it. I answered the phone and my heart sunk. We pulled around and went back into the office. I could just tell by the looks on the receptionist face that this was not a mistake and that this wasn’t going to be good. No one could look at me in the eyes because they felt so bad. He explained to me that they found a spot on my lungs and need to have further testing done to determine what it is. After further testing we found out that it wasn’t just one spot, but four, and that they were in different locations of the lungs.
 
Well how does this work? How do you find out for sure that it is cancer and such when it is on the lungs? I would soon found out.
I met with a specialist that told me there was no way they could go in a bio the lung and leave it. They were going to have to go in and remove the largest one to find out what they were dealing with for sure. He also told me that if I thought any of the other surgeries were hard to prepare myself. What? Prepare myself? Do you not know that I am a mom of three boys and just a year ago finished chemotherapy? What can be harder than that? I soon found out that have lung surgery was truly the hardest thing I have ever had to deal with. The length of time in the hospital away from my family and the pain itself, wow that is tough.
 
So, two years to the date, spooky, I was given the news that it was indeed cancer and was metastatic from the breast cancer. Well, what is metastatic and what does that mean to me? Come to find out it means a whole lot and brings other questions full circle to my life.
So what does this mean for me now and my life? So, I have triple negative breast cancer. So, my breast cancer is now metastatic and puts me in stage four. I have been blessed in a very odd way to realize the importance of my life to not only my children and husband, but to myself.  I know that I will never be “cancer free”, but I do know with my doctors and the treatments available today that I can keep it stable. My two dreams are to see my children graduate from the college of their choice and run a marathon. Slowly, but surely I am on my way.

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