Tiffany Washington



Recently diagnosed

Counting points w/ Weight Watchers saved my life

I recently had a baby and wanted to lose the 20 lbs I gained during pregnancy before his 1st birthday so I joined weight watchers. In 60 days I lost 18 lbs. I felt so good and I could see the results. Little did I know that this weight loss would help me discover a noticeable lump in my right breast. I just assumed it was a clogged milk duct but I quickly made an appointment with my GYN. I was referred to get a diagnostic mammogram. This was my first mammogram ever since I was pregnant the year prior when I turned 40. I waited an entire month for that appointment, which I would later regret. During my mammogram I could sense something was wrong. The techs went from chipper to silent. Extra images were taken and the ultrasound was done in silence. The radiologist said I needed to get a biopsy and left the room. The vibe was definitely off. I just remember the nurse navigator giving me an appointment for a biopsy consultation 10 days later. I’m so glad I stood up for myself and demanded an earlier appointment. Luckily, I met an amazing physician assistant at my breast specialist office named JD. She actually listens to me and heard my frustration. She managed to get me an appointment for that same afternoon and scheduled the biopsy for the following morning. She held my hand during the consultation as the specialist showed me what he could see on his ultrasound. The next morning when my biopsy was complete, I ask my doctor about next steps. “if this biopsy comes back benign, will you have to remove the lump?” I asked. The doctor replied “ If it comes back benign, I will perform another biopsy. I do not expect it to come back benign ”At that moment, I came to terms that this was serious. Three days later I received confirmation that the lump in my breast and lymph node were cancerous. I was diagnosed with stage 2 HER2+ invasive ductal carcinoma two days before my daughters 14th birthday. My son turned one less than two weeks prior. Everything was going so great and in an instant my entire world turned upside down. Suddenly I’m scheduling multiple appointments and fighting to get earlier dates (ALWAYS advocate for yourself). There’s a different level of anxiety when your life is on the line. The Pet scan was by far the scariest appointment for me. I’m finally starting chemotherapy on Wednesday. Six rounds, followed by surgery and targeted treatments for a year is my current plan. Am I afraid? Of course but my faith in God along with modern medicine will see me through this battle. I have an amazing husband, children, family and friends that are here for me every step of the way. I’m only 41. I have so many more birthdays and events to share with my husband and our babies!

My advice is to look out for all symptoms, not just lumps. I had a rash under my breast but I assumed it was a heat rash from working out. There are many symptoms that are not commonly discussed. I would like to spread awareness to all women to look out for all the signs and to never delay an appointment if there’s a problem. It’s really a matter of life and death.
Also, advocate for yourself. black women especially need to push for earlier appointments, ask questions and hold medical professionals accountable for doing their jobs efficiently and promptly. Never be ashamed to speak up for yourself. I know it’s an exhausting process mentally and physically. It it’s essential. Don’t give up.