Photo credit: Taylor Sanger Photography
The day after my grandfather’s funeral I woke up with a lot of pain in my breast. He had battled bladder cancer for about six months and passed away in February. I always do breast self-exam and hadn’t found anything but I feel like this was my grandfather showing me where to look for it. I went for an exam the same day. It was the day before my birthday. I spent my birthday having an ultrasound and mammogram. You never think it’s going to be cancer, especially at age 30.
On February 19, 2013, five days after my 30th birthday, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.
I had a lumpectomy and since I had cancer in three of my lymph nodes, started on chemotherapy. I had a very tough time with it, got very sick and ended up having a pulmonary embolism and was hospitalized. I changed to taxol and again got very sick and my white blood cell count dropped drastically. After another pulmonary embolism the doctor said that my body was not handling the chemo and I stopped.
When I was diagnosed I was working on my master’s degree in social work and was in school through surgery and chemo. I took the summer semester off and started school again in September at the same time that I started the first of 37 radiation treatments. I finished the semester in December with a 4.0 while going through radiation!
I feel like my husband was a single parent from the time I had surgery until about a month ago. He did everything, cooking, cleaning, taking care of me and our three-year old daughter Sophie. My parents, grandparents, and my husband’s parents were all awesome. We had someone coming over every day to help.
I went into social work because I worked in a psychiatric hospital for eight years but wasn’t sure what direction I wanted to take when I graduated. Now I want to go into the field of oncology, counseling newly diagnosed patients. It’s strange how something like this can give you direction in life. It’s terrible to go through but you definitely learn a lot from the experience.