Elizabeth Gramz



October 31st 2018 I was 33 and received a life changing diagnosis; grade 3, stage 3, invasive ductile carcinoma with a met tumor in my lymph nodes under my arm pit. It was triple negative breast cancer. The most aggressive, hardest to treat breast cancer there is. My husband and I had a hard few days at first, and telling our family was very hard. I am a very lucky woman, though. I have the most amazing, supportive family. They gave me the strength and bravery to keep going even when I was afraid. Rewind to 5 months earlier; I stopped nursing my daughter May 2018 and started to not feel well on a regular basis. After multiple doctor visits, tests, and a clean bill of health according to my primary at the time, I was resigned to the fact that I would just feel crappy forever. It was my new norm. September 2018 I take my two older sons to get flu shots with me. I start getting pain under my arm pit the same week as we get our shots. I ignore it for 2 weeks because I assume it’s a side effect of the flu shot. Over the next 2 weeks the pain increases and spreads to my chest. That is when I find 2 lumps; one under my arm and the other on the side of my breast. I make an appointment with my gyno, who recommends a mammogram and ultrasound since I am over 30. Of course, I pushed the appointment out a few weeks so it better accommodated my work schedule. The phone call came at 2:30 PM the day after my biopsy while I was at work. Before the call came, I already knew it my heart it was cancer. My grandmother died when I was 11 from metastatic breast cancer in her brain. She was diagnosed in her 50’s so none of my previous doctors took much stock in it. I was always afraid I’d also end of up breast cancer, even if I didn’t ever talk about it. Now it was slapping me in the face. I felt surrounded. I felt outnumbered. I felt overwhelmed. My aunt (by marriage) had breast cancer years prior, and my cousin was diagnosed with TNBC just 3 weeks before my diagnosis came. She was only 47 years old at the time. A co-worker was diagnosed almost exactly one year prior. I had genetic testing done and found that I have a BRCA1 mutation, and my cousin also tested positive. My cousin is on the same side of the family as my grandmother who died of breast cancer. My grandmother’s brother, my cousins father, died of prostate cancer. I underwent 6 months of chemotherapy, had a double mastectomy, total hysterectomy, and 6 weeks of radiation. I got my official “NED” on 5/23/19. I underwent a few months of physical therapy on my left arm, the cancer side. I’m done with that and now am undergoing pelvic floor PT. As of right now I have only 2 more appointments for that. My husband has taken care of me and the kids through it all. As Halloween 2019 approaches I can’t help but think that this time of year has truly taken on a “scary” feel. While I am at the tail end of treatment and now only going for follow up appointments with my surgeon and oncologist, cancer has taken over almost every facet of my life. There isn’t a day I don’t think about. There isn’t a day it doesn’t come up in conversation. There isn’t a day it doesn’t effect at least some part of my day. I’ve got a lot of anxiety I am trying to work through, but I am so thankful to have come out the other end of active treatment cancer free. I so desperately want to watch my children grown up and grow old with my husband.