April 3, 2020 at 11:59AM
What is that one picture that describes the lowest point in your life?
I’ve always been a healthy person. I stay active. At 35, I worked for a large health insurance company, and I’d walk around the building on my breaks for exercise. As a mom of a two year old, I was always running after him and doing whatever I had to to keep him busy. I rarely went to the doctor because I rarely got sick enough to warrant a visit to the doctor. The last time I’d seen a doctor was after I had my son.
In July 2017, I started getting migraines at work. I took Tylenol or naproxen (readily available in first aid boxes around the campus where I worked), but eventually it got so bad, I didn’t think I’d be able to work. I left work early and called my Primary Doctor and made an appointment to discuss the migraines and possibly get on a medication for them. The morning before the day of my appointment, I woke up to get ready for work and felt a sharp pain in my left breast. It was odd, I’d never felt such a sharp pain before, so I massaged the breast and felt around the area, thinking I’d slept wrong and had a cramp.
That was when I felt the large lump.
Less than two weeks later, I was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer, triple negative breast cancer (cancer that is not hormone-driven). It had already spread to my lymph nodes. I had no family history of cancer of any kind. I was the first to be diagnosed.
I did genetic testing, and found out I also had a BRCA1 genetic mutation. Everyone has BRCA genes, and these genes work to prevent cancer cells from forming. Because of the mutation, the cells didn’t work at preventing cancer cells, but instead made cancer cells. This mutation also made the likelihood of me having a cancer recurrence 50–85%. I immediately decided to have a bilateral mastectomy. Because it had already spread, I couldn’t have surgery first. I had to start a very aggressive chemotherapy right away.