Stories about breast cancer that can inspire and inform

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The Hardest Year

Elizabeth, right, on her last day of chemotherapy.

Elizabeth Gramz learned she had breast cancer in 2018. This is her story in her own words.

I’m a wife, mother of three, a sister, a daughter, a friend—and a breast cancer survivor.

Breast cancer has been a reoccurring theme in my life since childhood. When I was 11 years old, my paternal grandmother passed away from breast cancer that had metastasized (spread) to her brain.   

Twenty-two years later, in 2018, after I finished weaning my 1-year-old daughter, I found two lumps after experiencing unusual pain. I was 33 years old and thought it couldn’t possibly be cancer, but I went to the doctor anyway.

A few weeks later, I was diagnosed with stage 3 triple negative breast cancer. Suddenly, I was sitting with my oncology team talking about a treatment plan, surgery options and genetic testing.

After six months of chemo, a double mastectomy, a total hysterectomy (optional because I had the BRCA1 mutation) and radiation therapy, I finally finished treatment.

It was the hardest year of my life, but I tried to stay positive through it all. I was blessed with an amazing support system of friends and family, and my husband was an absolute rock through it all.

I just celebrated my second year of being cancer-free. I was angry for a really long time that this happened to me, and even now I experience a lot of fear of recurrence. Before cancer I was a healthy active person, and now I’m still learning to use my new body three years after my diagnosis.                                                                                                   

I’m thankful every day for the gift of more time with my husband and our children, and I pray that I don’t have a recurrence. All I want is to watch my children grow up. If I achieve nothing else in this world, that would be enough.                                                                                                       

For all others out there in this same boat: stay strong. Every day is a gift. Count your blessings and be present while you’re still here.

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.