Karen Diagnosed at 33

"I think women come in all shapes, sizes and journeys to identifying who they are. I think women should celebrate who they are scars, experiences and identities."

On November 10th, 2020, I lost my mother and best friend to stage iv metastatic breast cancer. My mother fought a very brave fight for five years, never wavering in her determination, strength, love and kindness.

On January 29th, 2021, the unthinkable happened and I was diagnosed with stage 0 breast cancer. The same breast cancer my mother had when she was just a few years younger than me.

When the initial shock wore off, I had a hard decision to make. I saw two paths in front of me. One was the path my mother took of going through a cycle of radiation, small surgeries and monitoring for 30 years. The other path was a mastectomy. I had to decide on the path that I felt would lead me to the future I wanted. I had just become engaged two weeks before and wanted to have a family with my soon-to-be husband.

The answer became simple, a mastectomy dropped my risk from 89% to 10%. Would my future children rather have me breastfeed them or be around their whole lives? I am now at the tail-end of my reconstruction journey. I just had my last surgery a week ago and am healing and waiting for the last step of the tattoos.

I have heard and read a lot about people wondering, do you still feel like yourself? Do you feel less like a woman? The answer is yes, I still feel like a woman and myself. I think women come in all shapes, sizes and journeys to identifying who they are. I think women should celebrate who they are scars, experiences and identities. This is why I decided to share my story because there may be another woman out there faced with the same choice that could find strength, comfort and support from my journey.

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

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