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Invasive Breast Cancer and a message of hope

I refuse to sit in a corner and cry over it.

I am a 34 year old woman who has invasive breast cancer. I had two jobs and was very active. I have always had enlarged glands in my breasts and I didn’t think anything about the one lump I had. In May of 2006 I went to the walk-in clinic to see about this lump because it was so sore. People always say that cancer is not painful, so I didn’t worry too much. The doctor advised me that he would book an ultrasound and we would go from there. I went to my appointment at the end of May and while I was there they decided that because of my age and the size of the lump that they would do a mammogram.

From the mammogram I went to the ultrasound and right there on the table they did the biopsy. With a very grim look on her face the doctor asked me why I didn’t go sooner. I said I had gone a few years before and they said it was just enlarged glands. Within one week of seeing hear I got the call that I knew I would get. I had invasive breast cancer. I also learned I had two lumps not just the one.

I went to see all the doctors at the cancer clinic and my surgeon, and I was in surgery within 2 weeks (a modified radical mastectomy) and started chemotherapy within one month. I was told that the cancer I have is rare for a woman my age and type.

I went through my 6 months of chemo and it was very painful because they had to up the doses to get it under control. I am going through nerve damage and the side effects of the chemotherapy now and trying to deal with that. There is no one in my family who has breast cancer besides an aunt, and they are trying to find out why I got this cancer.

I have three great children and a husband who tried to help me through this trying time, and my daughter was a godsend to me through the whole thing. She now is worried about what her future holds as well. They have done gene testing on me because for the sake of my children I wanted to know if I carry the gene. I have signed papers to allow them to be able to access my file at any time in case something does happen to me. That way they will always know exactly what type of cancer and how they tried to control mine.

Now I am learning what foods to eat and not to eat. The cancer I have is estrogen and hormone positive. I just had my ovaries removed to help me better my chances. In an 8-month time period, I have learned the strength of family and the changes a person’s body can go through. I will go through much, much more and I know this, and I always say, "I go one day at a time and see what that day will bring for me."

The other saying I have is "You don't know what you have till it is gone", and I believe that with all my heart. I am trying to deal with the after effects without medications, and I chose to have the ovaries removed because I do not like the side effects that a lot of these drugs have.

I have done a lot of reading on my cancer, and a lot of Internet searching to better teach myself what I am dealing with. The doctors only have so much time to tell you things and I understand that. When I see something that might benefit me I mention it to them, and we see if it is going to work in my favor.

This is some of my story in a short form and I hope that one day they do get a cure or that gene testing can save lives before it is too late. I go through life now with a smile and everyone always says to me "You do know you are sick, right?" I respond with “Yes, I do,” and I also say, "I refuse to sit in a corner and cry over it." If you sit in a corner and cry about it, you will lose whatever life you do have left, and we all need to live life to the fullest.

I wanted to share my story in hopes that if someone is reading it they will know they are not alone and that they can get through it. You don't know how much strength you have till you go through something like this. So for now I will sign off saying, everyone take care, and love every day.

Pam M.

 

some resources:

  • American Cancer Society presents everything you need to know to cope with cancer and its effects
  • Cancer Care Inc. is a national non-profit organization whose mission is to provide free professional help to people with all cancers through counseling, education, information and referral and direct financial assistance.
  • National Lympedema Network (NLN) provides education and guidance to lymphedema patients, healthcare professionals and the general public by disseminating information on the prevention and management of primary and secondary lymphedema. The latter can develop as a result of cancer surgery, radiation, infection or trauma.
  • National Cancer Institute offers comprehensive information about endometrial cancer
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Updated  05/15/2010