Vincenza Diagnosed at 38

"My only advice to those affected by this terrible disease is to never look back and always put one foot in front of the other and keep your head up high and keep smiling. You can do this!"

Hi my name is Vincenza Vosseler and am 38 years old. I was diagnosed with Stage 3a Breast Cancer, HER2 positive, on June 9, 2015. My daughter Talia was just 13 months old when I discovered a mass on my left breast. I did not wait too long because it was so large and painful. Immediately I went to see my Obgyn and she didn’t seem concerned. She prescribed me antibiotics and told me to apply ice and heat. After 2 weeks it was still very large and painful. By that time my daughter was not taking the milk anymore and the color was darker. Thankfully my sister suggested I see her breast surgeon. So I made an appointment and she did two needle biopsies. One on my breast and one under my armpits for my lymph nodes. The tests were back in less than a week. I'll never forget that phone call. I was at my new family doctor's office when I got a message from the breast surgeon saying that she wanted to meet with me before my appointment and to bring in a family member. I knew immediately what that meant. I started to cry hysterically and my doctor prescribed me a low dosage antidepressant and I drove myself to the breast doctor. She told me I had stage 0 breast cancer. I knew it and felt it in my gut. The tears immediately started to come and my body became numb. 

Then there was more. It was already 4 and a half centimeters and I had to have a mastectomy. There was no way it could be shrunk. After her talking for at least an hour and me daydreaming we went home. I was pretty much numb for at least a week. After getting second opinions and careful research, and even though my genetic test was negative, I decided to have a double mastectomy to lower my chances of it coming in the other breast. Surgery was July 22, 2015. It was 6 hours’ long and went very well but when I woke up I was given the terrible news that the cancer had spread to my lymph nodes and I'd need chemo and radiation. The next few weeks after surgery were very hard. Thankfully, with the love and support of my family, I got through it. I took one day at a time, put one foot in front of the other and kept pushing through and fighting. The doctors’ planned for me to have 6 rounds of heavy duty chemotherapy every 3 weeks and with an antibody called Herceptin and Projecta at the same time. Then I’d have 31 treatments of radiation every day for 5 and a half weeks. I knew it was going to be a long road and a very tough one but I knew I had to do it and fight this cancer and win! 

So on September 15th I had my first treatment. It was almost 6 hours long and very tough but I pulled through it. I was very sick and admitted to the hospital for dehydration. The second and third treatments were almost the same and very hard to push through. My husband and I had a lot of disagreements because I was very sick and he didn't know how to handle it. I have always been the one running the household and taking care of the kids while he worked two jobs. He didn't and couldn't understand how I was feeling and how to help me. Thankfully the rest of the treatments got better and better. I had my last chemo treatment on January 4th! I can't believe it. I am both excited and nervous because I am slowly going back to my old life before the diagnosis. However, I am not finished yet. I have my second surgery for my implants scheduled and then radiation will begin sometime after that recovery period. I also will continue for the next 9 months with the antibody Herceptin and Projecta regimen. I am excited for my hair to grow back and the chemotherapy part of this is over. I have been very lucky to have an overwhelming number of family and friends supporting me with the phone calls, homemade dinners, friends taking my children for a few hours while I rest. I am looking forward to the finish line and being able to tell cancer I kicked butt and am a survivor. My only advice to those affected by this terrible disease is to never look back and always put one foot in front of the other and keep your head up high and keep smiling. You can do this!

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