Kelli Diagnosed at 29

"I was 29 years old, newly married, had a great job...everything was perfect."

I was 29 years old, newly married, had a great job … everything was perfect. In May 2006, I found a small lump while shaving, in the lower part of my left armpit, just above the breast. But I wasn't worried … I was only 29, with no family history, and I was a health-nut! A week went by, and I decided to get it checked out. I went to my regular doctor, who put me on antibiotics, because of my circumstances, she thought it was just an inflamed lymph node. I was on antibiotics for a month, and the lump didn't go away. My doctor referred me to an oncologist, who, in the end, turned out to be my hero. Within a week, I was in her office having a lumpectomy; I was wide awake, only numbed … I definitely don't recommend that to anyone! She kept reassuring me that it was nothing, but, deep down, I knew it was breast cancer, and I could see it in her eyes.

The next day, June 6th, 2006, the call came in. "This is breast cancer," is what my doctor said. I almost dropped the phone. My husband was standing right beside me, but I felt completely alone. I spent the next few days crying. I couldn't believe this was happening to me! I had always taken good care of my body, and I felt it had let me down. I was angry, very angry. I felt betrayed by everyone & everything. I couldn't bear to tell my family, so we waited a few days. My mother kept calling me to see if I got the results, but I kept putting her off. How does one tell their parents they are going to die? I prayed for them. I was more worried about them dealing with my cancer than I was worried about myself. I did not want to see those I loved having to deal with my horrible reality.

One week later, I was in surgery again (this time, I was asleep!). My doctor did a sentinel node biopsy, removing 11 lymph nodes, and, thankfully, the cancer had not spread. My tumor was small (.8 cm), which was great news! But the bad news is that it was hormone-receptor positive and HER2/neu positive - a very rare, but aggressive cancer. Instead of having a mastectomy, I began my four rounds of chemo on July 28th, followed by 35 rounds of radiation. I am still undergoing Herceptin IV treatments every three weeks, but it's a cakewalk compared to chemo! I will finish Herceptin this October 2007 (after 1 year on the drug).

I am now 30 years old and have my world back at my fingertips. Yes, there isn't a day goes by that I don't think of a reoccurrence. But I'm also very thankful that my situation was treatable. So spread the word! If you find a lump, don't wait. Early detection is key! Although I am still on the road to recovery, I am also looking forward to the many things in life I have yet to experience (children, for one :)

If you are one of the many angels among us having to deal with being newly diagnosed, or continuing treatment, stay strong and keep your spirits high … it makes a huge difference! Note: Photo is four months after chemo ended. Yeah for hair!!

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