Survivor Spotlight: Maria Borneman, Bucks County

“I was diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer the same day I delivered my baby.”

My Diagnosis

At 37 weeks pregnant, I discovered a lump in my right breast while taking a shower. It didn’t feel normal, so I decided to call and schedule a doctor’s appointment. My OB saw me the same day and we both decided it would be best if I had an ultrasound of the area. I was not able to have an ultrasound immediately and waited two weeks.

The day of the appointment I was not nervous for some reason. I lay on the table and it was cold and just a very sterile quiet room. The tech saw the lump on the screen and called in the radiologist to take a better look. The Dr. decided it was best for me to have a biopsy. The next day I had a biopsy and mid procedure the Dr. said “I would be surprised if this wasn’t a cancer.”

I cried on the whole ride home and when I got home I called my OB and told them the news. We both were in agreement that I be admitted to deliver my baby the following day.

My husband and I headed to the hospital the following evening and before we could check in with the nurses my phone rang. It was a number I didn’t recognize, but I felt an urge to answer for some reason.

“Hi Maria. This is Dr._____, it’s a cancer. Let’s get this baby delivered and then we can talk about treating you.”

I looked at my husband and he knew something was not right. All I could think about was getting into deliver my baby. She was my main focus and I needed to be strong for her.

Undergoing treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic

Treatment is challenging during this time. I go to the doctors and everyone is wearing masks. It can be somewhat scary. However, these are preventative measures that all must take so that we are all safe. I understand why it is needed. I had to undergo two surgeries without my husband by my side. I was scared when I had to go alone. I woke up he was not there. That was somewhat scary. But it was also a necessary and precautionary measure defined by my cancer center.

Each day I am here is a blessing. Being inside during this quarantine has made our family grow. We are closer and more in tune with one another. We (my husband and I) are able to be here for our children. And we are cherishing each and every moment. I am managing like any Mother would do. I have to be here for my children. I need to be present and be positive. My attitude is contagious and can have a huge impact on the development of a young child. I save my sadness for when I’m alone (shower, car) so that my daughters don’t sense it.

My support system

My support system has been amazing! I am very lucky that my family and my in-laws live relatively close to our home. I also have been having at home nurses come check on me. They take my vitals and make sure I’m taking care of myself as well.

On receiving a Friends Like MeTM care package

I received a Friends Like Me care package and when I opened the box I was elated and I felt so loved. Not only were there beauty items inside, there were also books and literature for me to read through. I was not aware of all of the programs offered near me and I look forward to reaching out for more support within my own community.

My message to other women

Early detection can save your life! Perform your self breast exams. If you feel like something in your body is not right, get it checked out! I also want other women to know that they are not alone. There are so many support programs available to you.

My message to family and friends of newly diagnosed women

Let someone who is diagnosed have her time to process what is happening. If she asks to be alone, and that’s ok. She needs to think about a lot. But she also needs a call or a text from time to time. Let her know you’re there and when she’s ready you’ll still be there. Don’t smother her. Let her come to you when she’s ready to talk about her diagnosis.

Life after my breast cancer diagnosis

My diagnosis has taught that although I am not grateful for my cancer I am grateful for what my cancer diagnosis has taught me. I now laugh louder, love harder, and live happier. Each day is a gift. Yes. It has been challenging. But there is a silver lining here. I am lucky. If it were not for being pregnant. I would have never discovered this lump. My baby saved my life.