Vikki Diagnosed at 33

"I was nervous to tell people as I was embarrassed but then my neighbors told me that sickness is nothing to be ashamed of."

My story began in September 2018 when I first felt a lump on my right breast. I was scared to find out more as it felt hard but I knew I had to move swiftly. The next week I had a physical examination where the nurse indicated to me that I should do a breast ultrasound. After the ultrasound, the doctor said that it looks benign but I should do a biopsy to know what we are dealing with. After the biopsy, I was not sure what the results were but I was advised to do a mammogram. After completion of the mammogram, the doctor displayed all my results and then said that he does not have good news for me. I have stage 1 breast cancer.

At that point, I was so shocked that I immediately ran out of the room and began to cry in the washroom. A nurse had to pull me out of the washroom. As I arrived home, I had to tell my father the sad news. He was overwhelmed as my mother died from ovarian cancer but he had to remain strong for my sake. I did all my tests at the Trinidad and Tobago Cancer Society. After my diagnosis, my dad and I decided to visit Cleveland Clinic in Florida to do more testing. My biopsy sample was reviewed where I was further diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer. I was confused with the terminology, so I had to research it online. I appeared to be worse than I thought. I returned to Trinidad to have my surgery done.

At this point, I finally decided to tell my family and friends about my diagnosis. I was nervous to tell people as I was embarrassed but then my neighbors told me that sickness is nothing to be ashamed of. After my lumpectomy, I had to rest and recover for one month. I felt helpless sometimes but my father and brother helped me a lot. So the next step was the dreaded chemotherapy. My greatest challenges during treatment were the side effects of the medication. I had vomiting, tiredness, hair loss and drowsiness. My doctor, Professor Jameel Ali, from the St. James Medical Center helped me get through it all.

My advice to other cancer patients would be to surround yourself with positive people. I listened to relaxing music and did light yoga. I also watched movies and began to write articles to ease my mind, it works!

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

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