Breast Cancer Survivors & Fighters Share Personal Journeys
My story starts with a really close friend, KC Reynoso, being diagnosed with Metastatic Invasive Ductal carcinoma. My Aunt as well as my cousin had been diagnosed with Breast Cancer and my Uncle also had cancer. She informed me her and my cousin are carriers of the CHEK2 genetic mutation and I may want to get tested. After a few months of research and debating, I decided to get the genetic test. With the help from my friend I got in touch with a geneticist. Results came back and were positive.
I realized I was suffering from Breast Implant Illness, from implants I got eight years prior, so I decided to have surgery. I had surgery May 8th 2019 and was by far one of the hardest thing I’ve ever done. My husband and family got me through the recovery. Now, I’m 98% healed and I know I did the right thing. I still have some areas that get sore and uncomfortable but my likely hood of developing Breast Cancer before surgery was 60%, now is as low as 3% or lower.
The only reason I called to set up an appointment was because a friend of mine was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. After getting my exam and then the follow-up biopsy and waiting for what felt like forever for my results they finally came back. I was told I have invasive ductal carcinoma triple positive HER2 breast cancer. It is shocking how the body reacts to traumatic news. Mine went numb and I felt like I could not breathe. After meeting my surgeon, I found out that I would have to go through chemo, surgery and radiation. Cancer attacks the body physically, but what it does to you mentally is the real struggle. When I was first diagnosed, I woke up every morning and had to remind myself that I had breast cancer and of course start crying. With support from my family, friends, community and other pink warriors, I realized that cancer cannot invade my soul or control my attitude. I decided that cancer was not going to bring me down, I was going to put on my smile and my headscarf and fight like hell to beat this and to be able to say the words one day. “I am a breast cancer survivor.”
My breast cancer journey began in 1981. I was a 32 yr old divorced mother of an 11-year-old daughter. A week later, I was having a biopsy. The biggest shock of my life was waking up to “it’s the size of a quarter and was definitely malignant.” I had a mastectomy and began 10 months of chemotherapy. Everyone thought I was so strong through all of it. I was not. My strength came from God and all the prayer lists I was on and the determination that I would raise my daughter. I was blessed with a huge support system, which is my hope for others going through it. This breast cancer journey has changed my life in ways I never thought it could. I love sharing my story with others who are going through their own journey and hope to make a positive difference. For me, just telling women and men that I’m a 38 and a 34-year survivor is where I feel I can contribute the most. Sharing my journey with others continues my healing. Life is wonderful and everything I went through all those many years ago was worth it. I tell people if had to live it all over, I wouldn’t take that part out. It has made me realize the blessings I’ve been given and the importance of sharing the journey.
It never occurred to me that I could actually have breast cancer. I have four sisters, none of whom, thankfully, have been diagnosed with breast cancer, and there is no history of the disease in our family, so breast cancer was the farthest thing from my mind. And also, men don’t get breast cancer, right? I went for a whole year (after being diagnosed) not really even talking about it due to it being embarrassing at first. My family was encouraging me to tell my story though, so I decided to put it out there. I found that a lot of other men like me were embarrassed to talk about it, and I wanted to change that. I found that men don’t have breast cancer support groups like women do. So if a man calls the American Cancer Society and wants a man to talk to about breast cancer, they contact me. I’ve talked to people from California, Illinois, Ohio, Minnesota and Michigan. Just by talking it out and finding that other people are going through the same things that I’ve gone through, it’s acted as a kind of healing process for both me and those I’ve talked to.