Cindy Diagnosed at 46

"Cancer didn't define me, it redefined me! And my life after cancer? It's beautiful."

Life interrupted... that is an understatement. On New Year's Eve, 2016 I found a lump. It was rather large. Deep down, I knew. I have cancer. But how? I don't have a family history of breast cancer. It just can't be! But I knew. I could tell on the technician’s face when she ran the Doppler of the ultra sound over my lump. I could tell by the Dr's tone when she performed the biopsy. Non-the-less, when I got that phone call, sitting in front of our local health food store and I hear the words... “I'm very sorry but your mass is malignant”. I was shocked. At that very moment, life as I knew it stopped. I couldn't breathe. There I sat in my car, head in my hands, sobbing. Alone and afraid. Of course, the first thought that pops into your head is I don't want to die. The hardest part was telling my friends and family. I never felt alone after that day.

The day of my official diagnosis came even more bad news... with my three best friends and husband by my side, I was officially diagnosed with Stage 2 triple negative breast cancer. She went on to explain I will need chemotherapy, surgery, and possibly radiation. Apparently, I was considered young to have TNBC. After genetic testing, I learned that I carried the BRCA gene. Turns out, it does run in my family. Life with cancer... it's a funny thing when you're in it, it becomes your new norm. I had four rounds of A/C and 12 weekly Taxol’s. I lost my hair, my eyebrows, and eyelashes. I had blood tests every week. I had good days and bad days. I barely recognized myself in the mirror. Cancer robs you of so many things… your beauty, your health, your womanhood. But I knew I had to fight this monster that grew in me.

I had an amazing support group. I never felt more loved. My tribe was by my side from diagnosis to celebration. After 6 months of chemo came the surgery. Due to my BRCA 1 status, it was recommended I have a double mastectomy with DTI, and a hysterectomy to lower my reoccurrence rate. So, after an 8 ½ hour surgery… I was finally getting close to the end of my battle. I woke up feeling like an elephant was sitting on my chest. I remember my hubby looking over me with tears in his eyes and a smile on his face. “Your lymph nodes were clear! You are good!” And just like that. The monster was gone. And life suddenly continued. It has been almost 6 months. I am approaching my one year cancerversary… cancer didn’t define me, it redefined me! And my life after cancer? It’s beautiful.

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

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