Stories about breast cancer that can inspire and inform

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Melissa’s Story: Am I Going to Die?

Melissa Jones learned she had invasive ductal carcinoma in September 2017. This is her story in her own words. Within a span of two days, she learned she had breast cancer and was laid off from her job of 12 years. With a daughter starting college and another one beginning her senior year of high school, Melissa’s world was suddenly turned upside down.  

We are a family that loves to get together to celebrate birthdays and holidays. We were getting ready to take my mother out to dinner to celebrate her birthday. I was in the shower and felt a pea-size lump in my left breast. Immediately I thought, “Oh my god, this is cancerous.” My mother and my aunt are breast cancer survivors, I didn’t want to worry my mom, I didn’t want to spoil her celebration, so I decided to wait and call the doctor the next week. 

I had just been in for my regular mammogram six months earlier, but my doctor went ahead and scheduled another one for me. And I remember the call so vividly – the doctor’s office called and the woman on the other end of the phone was just so upbeat, and I thought, oh, maybe it’s not cancer. Her tone did not match what she told me next – “Melissa, you have breast cancer.” I couldn’t even process anything else she said to me.   

Your life literally changes just like that. I thought the worst – “I am going to die of breast cancer. Are my daughters going to get it? I’m a single mom. What are they going to do without me?” My whole life just flashed before my eyes.  

I was really overwhelmed. I had lost my job, my insurance was through COBRA and I struggled. But I found support through my mom, who is a 30-year survivor, and my aunt, who is a 21-year survivor. Watching the two of them go through their journeys, seeing the strong women they were as they went through treatment and came out with flying colors was incredible. And when I joined that club, they were with me. They took me to treatment, they helped pick out wigs and helped out with my daughters.  

I also found support through Komen. Someone told me that Komen offered support for patients like me, and I reached out.  They helped me find the resources I needed, be it financial, emotional, medical.  That’s huge when you’re going through breast cancer treatment. I was also provided with financial support through a Komen program that works with people in treatment.  

I underwent two lumpectomies, six chemotherapy treatments, three weeks of radiation therapy and one year of infusions. My mom, my aunt and I all did genetic testing, and none of us carry a gene mutation. 

The work Komen is doing requires every single penny they receive, so they can continue to serve breast cancer patients and so they can continue to work with legislators to get things passed, like in-depth testing and screening for breast cancer and increased insurance coverage. No one should have to choose between getting medicine or buying groceries or going to the doctor.  

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.