My name is Melanie. Here’s my story for the last several years to date. I turned 30 on July 13. I’m married to the same person that I have dated since I was 15. We have one child, a 9-year-old boy. Twelve days before my birthday, I went into a radiology clinic for a mammogram, ultrasound and biopsy. Two days later, on July 3, 2008, I learned that I had invasive breast cancer.
I was in shock. I never thought I would have breast cancer. I have no family history back three or four generations on either side of my family.
Before my doctor’s appointment, everyone said, You are too young to have breast cancer; it’s going to be a cyst. You are going to be a fine. But the lump was huge. I could cup it with my hand. Over the weekend, it started to hurt. Then everyone said, Breast cancer doesn’t hurt. You’ll be fine. My response: I might be one of the 1% for whom it does hurt. I just had a feeling…
I went to an ob/gyn about one year ago, and told her that I had felt a few lumps in my breast. She asked me if I usually felt them before and after my period. I said, yes, usually. She felt them and told me they were calcium deposits and that I was too young for it to be anything else.
I have a 51-year-old friend who was diagnosed with breast cancer seven years ago. She had chemo and a mastectomy. About a month ago she was had a second breast cancer diagnosis. She had surgery and will soon have reconstruction. We have worked right next to each other in a nice office for about ten years. This is a nice office area, in an office building. No construction, engines, etc.
I know that once this is all over my friends, my family, and I will put a 200% effort toward breast cancer research. What a team we will be! My friend and I plan to involve ourselves in research and join breast cancer organizations, clubs, support groups, etc. We are both great at talking to people about things we know. And we are both great at helping people because we have huge hearts. We are going to be there for people with this disease and provide support to help find the cure.
I would love to hear from anyone about anything. Anyone that just found out that they have breast cancer, anyone who is just starting chemo, and anyone who had gone through it already, anything. Lets all come together.
I am still in shock, and don’t even know what to do next. But my friend who now has breast cancer for the second time told me to keep saying these words to myself: I AM STRONG! YOU ARE ALL STRONG TOO!!!
The waiting, tests, doctor appointments, and additional biopsies needed to determine what stage, next steps, etc. were exhausting. A few weeks felt like a few months. Nurses and even the Dr. asked, “You are so young. Do you have a family history?” I would tell the story of how I found something, not because I was doing a self-exam, but because I had pain there from a Friday through Sunday. The nurses and doctors were always interested in and surprised to hear the story. Most say, “Keep smiling, you have a beautiful smile.”
The tests showed that the mass in my breast was smaller than the mass in my lymph nodes. Finally, I had my surgery. I had a lumpectomy and about 10 lymph nodes removed. After recovering somewhat from the lumpectomy, I met my oncologist, who told me chemo would start within three weeks and radiation would follow once chemo ended. My friend also was waiting to find out if she had to go through chemo. The waiting, the not knowing, is the worst part of it all.
Chemo started the last week of August and will continue once every two weeks until early December. Radiation will follow for 6-8 weeks, every day. I was dreading chemo. What woman wants to lose her hair, eyelashes, and eyebrows? I love my long hair. I have never had hair above my shoulders. At the time, I didn’t think about any of the other side effects, only about losing my hair.
My friend continued to tell me, “Be strong.” Eventually she found out that she, too, would need chemo. In fact, her chemo started the week before mine. So, although she has a different type of breast cancer, we are going through this at the same time.
When chemo started, I wasn’t open to wigs. I figured I would wear hats, kerchiefs, and scarves. My friend decided she wanted to have a wig as well as all these other things. Our hair started to fall out at the same time, and we went to the wig shop to have her wig cut. We also supported each other on “buzzing” our hair. I watched her get it done first. Inside, I was so sad for her. But she was so strong which made me be strong.
I wasn’t 100% sure if I was going to go through with my buzz. But I did it. I buzzed my hair. I couldn’t look at myself. I kept my eye shut tightly. When I finally looked, I thought that I looked like an alien. I walk around my house with nothing on my head. But going out in public is a different story. I wear a scarf or a hat and I’m thinking that I might get a wig.
So far, the chemo hasn’t been as bad as I thought it would be. When I feel a little sick, I try to think of other things to keep my mind off of it. So, if you are starting chemo, my suggestion is: Do not read side effects stories that are negative.
They told me, “Melanie, the treatments are going to put you into menopause.” I was like, “I’m 30 years old. Menopause is for women who are 50.” But what you can you do? You can cry, yell, scream, get depressed. There’s so many ways you could feel. But I just smiled and then laughed and said, “Just keep my cancer away.” I AM STRONG.
I’ve had two treatments and now have six more to go. Then radiation. Then, this will all be over, and I can think about being cancer-free.
***CANCER FOR THE 2ND TIME…2010 diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer, cancer in the bone…
Completed chemo and radiation!
Was suppose to have chemo until Dec/Jan 2011…Miracle took place…Got pulled off chemo over 5 months early – the cancer is gone 100%
***CANCER FOR THE 3RD TIME …Cancer back March 2011…Lets kick it’s butt! It’s stuck to me , it loves me. I hate it…Getting rid of it now!
Without the United Breast Cancer Foundation THROUGHOUT all of this, I don’t know what I would have done financially. Words cannot express my gratitude to the UBCF. UBCF is the best!!! Thank you UBCF!