Elizabeth Buck



Growing up, I had always been sick, whether it be the flu, explainable pains, or constant cysts. As bad as it sounds, I had grown extremely accustomed to always being weak and sick. I still attended college and worked full time as a manager of McDonald’s, besides my countless amounts of sick days, I still did my best. In October of 2014, I started getting horrible pains in my chest. Just a simple touch, my shirt pressing against me, or even breathing became unbearable. At the time, it was diagnosed as Costochondritis (inflammation of the chest cavity). Soon, I discovered a lump in my breast. Going to the doctor, I was immediately reassured it was not cancer. Though, that didnt stop them from doing multiple different tests (none of which tested for cancer), and many types of medications. After months went by, the medications never worked, and the lump only grew and grew. Finally, they had me get mammograms, breast ultra sounds, MRI’s, and lastly and most painfully, a biopsy. And that’s when it was finally confirmed. Early February, 2015, I was told that I did in fact, at 22 years old have breast cancer, ER+ PR+ and Her 2 +. You would think that such news as this, would bring you to tears, or cause you to immediately panic. But, for some reason, deep down, I felt a ittle relieved. All those years of being so sick, and in so much pain, with never having a logical reason, finally had a diagnoses. I went in, had my PET scan done, and soon followed the phone call for the results; my cancer was already at stage 4, reaching my lymph nodes and my bones. This was the first time I had my ‘freak out’ moment. I didn’t cry, but I did get so sick to my stomach, and scared, that I had to run to the bathroom to vomit. I sat on the bathroom floor, trying to gather my composure, knowing my mother was right outside. I had to be strong for her. Not only for her, but my 3 little siblings, my dad, my fiance, my friends. Everyone. It’s just like the quote “When someone has cancer, the whole family and everyone who loves them does, too.” I couldn’t bare to show how scared or sad I was. I knew just how much it would worry everyone I loved, when they were already worried enough. I had taken time off of college, and my job, to try and mentally and physically prepare for what was to come: chemotherapy. I cut my long hair, into a short pixie cut, as well did 2 of my closest friends, and my 12 year old baby sister. Having such an amazing support group, made staying strong a lot easier of a burden to carry. During my very first session of chemotherapy, we were there for 8 hours. My body had horrible reactions to everything they put into me, including herceptin, which as I was told doesn’t cause reactions, but of course it did with me! It was horrifying, and sickening. That first session felt like all my years of being sick were pushed together in one long session for me to feel and bare through. But, with each session, it got easier. I had supportive friends and family come visit me, and sit with me and play board games with me for hours on end, until it was time to go home. I had lost my hair, at 22 years old. Not only that, but it felt as if I lost myself. Women, and young women especially, grow so attached to their hair and their image, that it feels like that is what makes them be them. But through this entire process, I have of course found out that that is not true. You don’t need breasts, hair, eyelashes, or make up to be beautiful. You don’t need any of that to be who you truly are. What counts is whats on the inside (and no, I don’t mean your guts!). Close friends and family members started several fundraising opportunities for me. An online funding on gofundme.com was started, a raffle basket was started, as well as a shirt fundraiser. The shirts were black, with hello kitty on the front saying “Fight like a girl”. So so many people donated, and bought the shirts, leaving me to feel even more loved and supported. But all these things didn’t change how alone I felt at the same time. I didn’t have anyone my age, who was going through or who has already been through this same disease, with the same stage. But I was, and still am, incredibly thankful for all my supporters. June 10th, 2015 was my last scheduled chemotherapy. I was so excited, as well as my family and friends. We made up a poster and decorated it saying “my last chemo!”. Everyone came in wearing their T-Shirts and wanted to take photos, and told me how proud they were of me. I felt like my life was about to come back together. The next few months I spent getting my strength back. My hair was growing back and I was back to feeling like a normal 22 year old. As a gift for finishing chemo, I got my dream puppy: a Pomeranian, Reginald, who I love so so dearly. I went back to work, and even enrolled myself back into college, making the honor roll. September 8th, 2015, I had my lumpectomy and lymph node removal. And exactly one week later, I was told by my surgeon that I needed to get back onto chemotherapy. I could feel my heart sinking in my chest. I stared, and nodded at my doctor as she continued to talk, just trying my best to hold back my tears. Everything else she was saying was a blur, because all I could think about was how it felt like…like all my progress was washed down the drain. I was going to be sick again..bald..out of work and out of college. I was terrified. I thought that with all my high hopes and fighting that I had finally killed this thing off, but I hadn’t. I spent the next week being overly depressed, and angry. I was mad at everything. Mad at my weak body, mad at my doctors, and most importantly I was mad at this disease. Why does this happen? We probably will never know why it happens to anyone, really. I started chemotherapy for a second time on October 1st (go figure for breast cancer awareness month!). A week after my chemo, my doctor told me I had a syndrome in which makes your more susceptible to multiple cancers at once. He advised it would be best to remove my breasts and my ovaries. From that second I felt my heart shatter. My entire life, I had never wanted anything more than to be a mother.. I didn’t have a dream job. I wanted to be a mother. Pregnancy is one of the most beautiful experiences to have when you’re alive. And hearing my doctor say he wanted my ovaries removed ripped my dreams out from under me. But, I refuse to give up any slim chance that I have. If I can fight cancer at 22, I have to find a way to reach my dream I’m currently still in school, but do all my assignments from home. I do my best every day to not focus on me being sick, but focus on me getting better.I may have cancer, but cancer doesn’t have me.