Melissa Diagnosed at 25

"In August of 2015, at 25 years old, I found myself sitting in a doctor's office hearing those words nobody thinks they'll hear..."You have Breast Cancer.""

My world was flipped upside down. I sat there as the doctor talked...All that I could pick up on were words like chemo, surgery, and radiation. I was so scared. Tears streamed down my face as my husband held me.

That week I found myself going to the hospital every day. It was overwhelming meeting with doctors and getting tests done. When I was first diagnosed, I was told that the chance of having kids naturally would decrease with chemotherapy, and it was suggested that I consider IVF treatment. So that was what I did first. I went through a couple of weeks of IVF to preserve some embryos in hopes that I can have a family one day, I got a port put in, and then I began 16 rounds of chemotherapy for stage II triple negative breast cancer. I went on a trial for extra chemo in hopes that I could help someone else in the future, and in the hope that I would get the extra drugs that would help fight the cancer. I was on multiple drugs and several different types of chemotherapy. I remember crying a couple of weeks into chemo as my hair started to fall out. I cried the whole weekend, but then I decided to throw a party, hire a henna artist, and cut all my hair off. (photo above from party) That's just what happened, and you know what? I ended the night with a smile on my face. That's how I hope this journey, as a cancer fighter, will end...with a smile on my face.

It's been so hard. Every day I wake up, and I put on my metaphorical boxing gloves on, and I try my hardest to punch fear in the face. I've been through a lot. Cancer is hard. Towards the end of chemo, I was so tired, and I could feel the toll chemo had put on my body with extreme fatigue, neuropathy issues, and nausea. I lost all my hair from head to toe. When I looked in the mirror, I saw cancer, but the hardest part wasn't even my own cancer. My dad was diagnosed with cancer shortly after I was, and unfortunately, he passed away. It was the darkest time in my life. It's still too soon to elaborate on what happened and my feelings, but I will say that once the dust settled, I looked up and realized that there was hope. I had my family by my side, and God had given me a sense of peace through the storm in my life. I can honestly say I couldn't have gotten through this without family and God's love and peace.
After chemo, I had a lumpectomy and then started radiation. I went through 33 rounds of radiation. Once you are diagnosed with cancer, your whole life changes. One of those changes was starting a business to help give back. Once I realized that I was going to lose my hair and I started chemo, I started to search for shirts and wigs to wear during chemo. I realized that a lot of the websites for cancer fighters made me feel old or out of place. There was a huge disconnect. So the idea of opening up my own shop was born.

My goal is to be there for young women who are facing a chronic illness or disease, like cancer.  I am passionate about trying to spread hope and encourage others. I share my story in hopes to let other cancer survivors know that yes it's hard, but you can get through this.

I also share my story to bring awareness to Breast Cancer. I'm proof that you can get it at any age, so please check yourself every month! I found my lump by accident, I had an itch, but you need to be an advocate for your own health. After my surgery doctors have told me, I have no evidence of disease, and I am doing well. My hair has started to grow back, and I am starting to discover my new normal. As I enter a new season in life, I can look back and realize that while I hate cancer, I do not want to waste my cancer. I have faith that God has a plan for my life, and I plan to figure out what that is and live life to the fullest. Life is short, so we have to enjoy every minute of it.

If this is your story and you'd like to update it, please email us at stories@youngsurvival.org.

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