Stories about breast cancer that can inspire and inform

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Chelse’s Story: Finding the Good 

Shortly after Chelse Mcwilliams turned 28, in June 2020, she learned she had breast cancer. This is her story in her words.  

The moment I learned I had breast cancer was so stressful. My mother had breast cancer twice, but I thought I was too young to get it.  

Then my doctor found something on my right breast. He thought it was a cyst but went ahead and scheduled a breast ultrasound for me. The next day I go for the ultrasound and I’m not worried. I’m thinking it’s a cyst or something benign.  

During the ultrasound, I was lying on the table and the technician got very quiet. She called in the doctor, who looked everything over and said, “Oh, that’s worrisome.” I jumped up and started panicking. Worrisome? What does that mean? I left the room. I was in tears. I was just very scared. 

I had to have more follow-up tests done, including a biopsy. I was a nervous wreck. I prayed all weekend. On Monday, my husband was home with me when the doctor called. I had triple negative breast cancer, stage 2B. 

Right before I started treatment, I had an appointment and they discovered thickening in my left breast, so I went for another biopsy. Did I have breast cancer in my left breast, too? I couldn’t let the negative bring me down, so I did my best to be positive, to be calm. Luckily, what they found was benign.  

For treatment, I had chemotherapy and a double mastectomy. I kept thinking, will I make it for Christmas? Will I make it through this? My sons were 8 and 3 and I kept thinking, will I still be here for my kids? My mom was my support. She said, “I’m in my 60s and I am still here.” 

I’ve tried to take the good along with the bad. When you start to lose your hair, it can be depressing, but I focused on staying strong. When I lost my hair, I decided that I was going to try out new hair, have fun with it. I got different wigs. One day I was blonde, the next I had red hair. One day I had long hair, then I had short hair. I embraced it the best way I could, and I truly felt beautiful during that time.  

Statements and opinions expressed are that of the individual and do not express the views or opinions of Susan G. Komen. This information is being provided for educational purposes only and is not to be construed as medical advice. Persons with breast cancer should consult their healthcare provider with specific questions or concerns about their treatment.