From Breast Cancer to Baby at 28
My name is Chiara and I am a 28 year old breast cancer survivor. Breast cancer doesn’t run in my family, I don’t have either of the BRCA gene mutations, and I was in overall good health at the time of my diagnosis. I went from feeling a lump in my right breast at the beginning of May to being diagnosed with DCIS (then upgraded to Stage 1a with multiple foci) to bilateral mastectomy to finding out I was pregnant in the beginning of August! Talk about a whirlwind trip. I have to say that having breast cancer isn’t as terrible as you might think. The worst part is waiting for test results and dr’s appointments to hear your results. The mental, physical, and emotional anxiety you and your loved ones go through during the waiting is utterly indescribable. That’s the worst of it, though! Once you have your diagnosis, getting a plan together and starting treatment feels like a really great step forward. As for treatment, whether you’re facing lumpectomy, mastectomy, or considering bi lateral mastectomy, know that you will be whole again. Don’t let anyone talk you into or out of a procedure. Make the decision that you’re most comfortable with. I opted for bilateral mastectomy because the surgeon had to take the right breast altogether and I just didn’t want to have to go through screening every six months for the left. Again, the anxiety was unbearable for me. And, if I had to make the decision to do bilateral mastectomy again, I’d absolutely do it. After all, it’s just breast tissue. I won’t be able to breast feed my kids but in the big scheme of things, I’d rather be around to raise them! After the mastectomy, the pathology results indicated ER+, PR- HER 2 neu+ breast cancer with the presence of LVI. So, my oncologist recommended a short course of chemo as a preventative measure, even though the cancer had not reached my lymph nodes. As I was getting ready to have my port put in and harvest some eggs, I found out that I was pregnant. I can’t tell you how excited my husband and I were to find hear the news! The baby is due April 2015 and after te birth, I’ll resume treatment. I’m not exactly looking forward to chemo but it’s a drop in the bucket compared to all the life I have ahead of me and this beautiful blessing that’s growing! So, next June or July, I’ll start chemo and it’ll be over before I know it. For those of you that are facing a breast cancer diagnosis, here’s what I recommend for easing your mind and helping you through the process: Tell your family, they will be your biggest supporters. And when you feel like you can’t face it anymore, they’ll be there for you. It’s ok to be angry! Cry, yell, scream, whatever you have to do. Cancer sucks and no one is expecting you to keep it together 24/7. Find good doctors and don’t be afraid to get a second and third opinion. It’s your body! Know your doctors. Do your research. This will allow you to have intelligent conversations with your doctors and will help you to ask the right questions. It also helps when you’re explaining things to your family. This last one will be the hardest: don’t expect a diagnosis from Dr. Google and stay off the forums. It’ll only make you feel more anxious. Instead, stick to reputable websites and the facts about breast cancer. If you know fellow survivors, reach out to them. They’ve been in your shoes and can’t wait to help you through it, too.