Christin Diagnosed at 33

"I think my family struggled more than I did. My daughters begged me not to cry anymore."

As a 33 year old professional raising two young daughters while finishing my Masters program in healthcare administration, being diagnosed with breast cancer was the last thing I expected... until I felt "that lump". It was painful and they said it probably was nothing, but I acted on it. I was diagnosed August 28, 2017 and opted for a bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction on October 4. The surgery will forever be the hardest part of my experience. When I came to, they told me the cancer had spread and I would need chemo and radiation. Interestingly enough, I am the patient experience leader at the hospital in which I would receive care. Seriously, this wasn't supposed to happen to me! I am supposed to be on the other end of things!!

I think my family struggled more than I did. My daughters begged me not to cry anymore. After seeing my new mangled body, it was hard to hold back the tears. The day I started chemo, my husband and I were both jolted. Everything felt surreal. Always the question, "how is this happening to us?" My children struggled more when we decided to shave my head. My five-year-old stood and cheered her mommy on while my three-year-old stared blankly and then tried to clean up the remains of what once signified a healthy mommy. From there it was wigs and hats which luckily coincided with a cold winter. Visiting the local wig bank was a great first move and provided me a free wig that passed off as my natural hair. The physicians and nurses I work with couldn't even tell I was sick. Once I ditched the wig, people thought I was brave for getting such a short haircut. Ha! If they only knew how brave I was.... I continued my Masters program and am due to graduate in May 2019. I never missed a single classroom party for my kindergartner or a single work event. I refused to let cancer win. I finished radiation and all of my treatments and surgeries on June 29, 2018. I have yet to look back, and continue to advocate to everyone I see. I'm told "your positive attitude through all of this is astounding!" I can tell you one thing - my positive attitude kept me going. Today, I am THRIVING! I am able to share my story with our oncology patients and witness the sense of calmness wash over them. I have new purpose and an entirely new life. Cheers to many more years!

Are you a survivor, spouse, friend, or caretaker with a story to tell? We'd love to hear from you.

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