Donna Diagnosed at 32
I just turned 32, had a sweet one-year-old baby girl, and life seemed to be going well. It was the day after Christmas that I received that dreaded call that no one wants to hear. At the time, I worked as a surgical nurse and the breast surgeon that removed my suspected “fibroadenoma” was one of my colleagues. When he called, I assumed he was calling to be courteous and check on me. It didn’t dawn on me that he was calling with more serious news that would change my life forever... I couldn’t have cancer! My parents were deceased but not from cancer. In fact, no one had cancer in my family history! I knew something was wrong when he asked where my husband was and if I could put him on the phone as well. There it was, you have cancer and a new scary chapter began.
I met with various oncologists and had lots of recommendations often based on “you're too young for this” so we need to be more aggressive. I was diagnosed with Stage 1, Er+, Pr+, Her2 Neg invasive ductal breast cancer. The most common kind - I have been told - except that I was “too young for this.” Due to my age, chemo was recommended. Some doctors believed hormone therapy would be my best weapon. I mean, my ovaries were in full gear and I was highly hormone receptor positive. To complicate things, I had endometriosis, and at the same time I experienced an ovarian cancer scare. It’s not surprising, doctors would look at me and think if she had breast cancer at 32, that suspicious solid mass on her ovary could very well be ovarian cancer. One oncologist - that was very interested in the upcoming SOFT trial - recommended Lupron with Tamoxifen. It was believed that it could help treat my endometriosis and thought it may also give me additional benefits to prevent breast cancer as well. I did this for five years, despite the side effects and the unknown. After I was off it for two years, the recommendations changed. Ten years of hormonal treatment is advised. So, I went back on it for an additional three years.
It has been tough learning to live this “new normal” under a microscope. Some days I feel like I am 75 years old, and other days just lucky to be alive. Today, I look forward to celebrating my 12 year cancerversary on 12/26. Since my diagnosis, there have definitely been some good chapters as well. My husband and I decided to adopt a baby boy to complete our family. We are now blessed with a girl and a boy. I am hopeful that my story has many more chapters to go and many of them will be good!
Are you a survivor, spouse, friend, or caretaker with a story to tell? We'd love to hear from you.