Ginina Lee was diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer in 2021.
When Ginina Lee was in her early 20s, she found a lump in her breast. Her doctor scheduled a breast ultrasound and a biopsy. The lump was not cancerous, but Ginina’s doctor advised her to undergo yearly exams moving forward.
In March 2021, Ginina went in for her annual mammogram. Her doctor requested a breast ultrasound, She wasn’t worried when her doctor scheduled this follow-up test. “This is what I was used to,” she said.
But when her doctor then scheduled a biopsy, Ginina became uncharacteristically nervous. “I was really anxious this time,” she said. “I have always thought that, someday, I was probably going to hear that I had breast cancer, and I think my body just knew, somehow.”
Four days after the biopsy, Ginina learned she had stage 1 breast cancer at age 44. “I broke down. I think just hearing the word cancer, it felt like a death sentence,” she recalled. “So many things go through your mind. I had to call my mom, then my dad, and I waited until I got home to tell my husband.”
Ginina’s daughter, Kymora, was 16 at the time and knew about her mother’s yearly appointments. “I just couldn’t figure out how to tell her,” Ginina said. “We’re super close. She’s my only child.”
A week after Ginina learned she had breast cancer, Kymora surprised her one night at dinner. “She said, ‘You haven’t said anything about your appointment. Is it bad? Is it breast cancer?’ She knew something was wrong,” Ginina said. “She was so strong. Throughout everything, she motivated me and told me how strong I was. I think if she hadn’t been as strong as she was, I may not have been, either. But Kymora’s strength made me stronger.”
Ginina’s treatment included a bilateral mastectomy in July 2021. She did not have to undergo chemotherapy or radiation therapy. “I feel fortunate about that,” she said. “But there are still mental and physical scars.”
Recovery was at times painful. “You’re not able to lay flat, you can’t lay on your side, you have drainage tubes connected to you,” Ginina said. “You’re in pain. Everyday activities are difficult. Little things we take for granted – it was challenging to sweep, to put on my shoes, to tie my shoelaces.” A few months later, she began to experience sharp pains in her breast, due to scar tissue, and will undergo another surgery this summer.
Ginina’s experience has shown her the importance of living her life. “I no longer take it for granted,” she said. “I cherish each day God allows me to wake up. I no longer stress about the small stuff. Instead, I embrace my new normal. I share my story for the women who didn’t get a chance to.”
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.