My cancer journey started before I was diagnosed myself. I watched my mom fight for her life with Metastatic Pancreatic Cancer. At the age of 21 I saw and heard doctors dismiss the pain she was in. Which I now realize is typical for doctors to dismiss the pain and symptoms of Black women.  She was diagnosed a year after she first voiced her concern for pain and symptoms.

I had always devoted my life to staying as healthy as possible. I thought I had a shadow over me. That I learned to dismantle by doing all the right things (eating right, regular doctor visits, and exercise). So when I came back from a run I would never expect to find a lump in my breast.

It was September 2015.  I got ready to hop in the shower and my hand rubbed past my breast.  I found a lump & I got in the shower and tried to rub it away, but in my heart, I knew that day I had Breast Cancer. While in the shower, which felt like an eternity I cried & cried. So I immediately started fighting and advocating for myself. 

From there on it has been a struggle. I was questioned why do I need a mammogram at 36 and I told them to ask the lump in my breast that question. Who would think that someone would have to struggle to just be heard, but this was not new to me. It just didn’t seem real.  I was reliving my mom’s story.  Immediately after my testing I was told it was cancer, but how since no one in my family had breast cancer. Unfortunately, the fact that my mom passed away at an early age from pancreatic cancer put me at risk. So, the doctors wanted to be very aggressive with me.

I was given the option to just remove the lump or have a mastectomy. Luckily, I chose the mastectomy because once they operated there was not only that lump about five more lumps. The tumor was considered Stage 2b Invasive ductal carinoma er/pr+ her2- due to it spreading to lymph nodes. I also had DCIS in the same breast.

It has been a lonely road. If cancer taught me one thing is that if you don’t fight to get through it every day no one can do it for you.

I decided to ask about and pursue fertility preservation.  It was an emotional roller coaster.  Financially, physically, mentally, and emotionally draining.  I still have eggs that will never get used.  Because one thing they didn’t emphasize enough is how damaging chemotherapy is on your reproductive organs.  I was told my ovaries would go to sleep for a while.  I keep wanting to just shaking them and wake them up. 

I went through 16 rounds of chemo ACT and many hospital visits in between because my body couldn’t take it. They changed from Taxol Taxotere and had to send my case to the tumor board to see if I could safely continue but I couldn’t.  I was disappointed I thought I had failed myself by not completing. I also thought this would increase the chances of my cancer return.  At the end of chemo, I rang that bell alone. After this I completed 25 rounds of radiation and I bang that gong alone at the end . Which was difficult as I saw how people had family and support and that made question myself a lot.

I felt so alone. Then came the hard part. Putting myself back together and fighting to find what my doctors kept calling the new me.  I had to dig deep down inside to try to find her and I want to be honest I’m still trying to find her. I celebrate all my milestones. Survivorship is hard for me, but I take it one day at a time and try not to let cancer take away from me anymore.