Katy Diagnosed at 25
I was diagnosed in 2008 at the age of 25. I found a lump in the shower one day in my right breast. Being the procrastinator that I usually am I said I would give it a few days and if it didn’t go away then I would call the doctor. Thankfully this time I didn’t procrastinate, nor did my doctor. She sent me right away to get a mammogram and ultrasound. After that it was the core biopsy and the diagnosis on May 9th. From the biopsy they determined that it was DCIS (stage 0) so the recommendation was lumpectomy and radiation. YAY no chemo! So I thought.
After the first lumpectomy and then another surgery to get clean margins it was determined that it was further along than originally thought. I had some invasive cancer in the milk ducts. So off to the oncologists I went. I was scheduled to have four rounds of AC and then four rounds of another drug I can’t remember now. I was lucky enough to have an “easy time” with chemo. Yes, for about a week a felt like I had a really bad flu but then I was ok for the next two weeks up to my next treatment. My boyfriend (now WONDERFUL husband) shaved my head. I cried as I saw the hair falling into the towel but then after looking at myself in the mirror, it wasn’t too bad. I got a wig but hardly ever wore it. I mostly wore scarves. While this was going on I was also in contact with a radiologist and having more tests done. They kept seeing more calcifications in the same breast. So after different options from “don’t worry about them” to “yes worry about them” I decided to change my doctors all together. The new doctors were very straight forward and told me what I needed to do. I ending up doing a double mastectomy with expanders December 3rd 2008 after having finished the four rounds of AC.
After weeks of expander fills, an expander replacement surgery because of a hole, taking Navelbine, Herceptin, a move across the country for work (another doctor change), an implant exchange surgery, starting Tamoxifen and a nipple reconstruction surgery I was coming to the end of “treatment”. Today I’m still on Tamoxifen, just past my 5 year mark.
Some things that I have learned from my experience are:
Always get another option if you’re not comfortable. After my mastectomy I learned that the calcifications were cancerous so I would have been back a few months/years later if not for that second option.
Your attitude through this whole experience is really going to determine how you feel. Attitude is 99%. Some days are going to be harder than others but you can get through it. BE STRONG.
You aren’t alone. As young survivors you might feel like you are. There are great communities out there with many other women who understand and will listen.
I used message boards a lot when I was diagnosed and luckily my family, friends and husband were a great help/support for me.
My last piece of advice is talk to your doctor about your fertility options. When I was diagnosed this wasn’t brought up. I wasn’t thinking about it at the time. I was thinking I HAVE CANCER.
Although having cancer sucks, it has also brought some great things into my life. I’ve meet some amazing, strong women, all with their own stories. I’ve also been able to share my own story and hopefully helped other women. I also learned that I can do anything. No challenge you put in front of me I can’t do. I BEAT CANCER.