On Feb. 1, 2006, a week before my 35th birthday, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I found the lump myself and knew that I needed to get this checked right away. I already knew I was high risk. My grandma and my mom had breast cancer, and I’d already had two mammos prior to this, the last mammogram being just 14 months before.
I made my appointment with the Norma J. Vinger Center for Breast Care at Gundersen and knew I was going to be in good hands.
Being only 34, I knew that this was probably going to be nothing; my mom was 45 when she was diagnosed so I had time if I was going to be diagnosed. I came in and had another mammogram and it showed definite changes. I was taken in for an ultrasound and the radiologist said right away that the lump was highly suspicious for cancer and wanted to do biopsies.
I thought, "CANCER…no way. I'm only 34. I'm too young. I have two children. If this is going to happen, I have until my 40s!"
But, that was not the case. The biopsies showed I was stage 2. The next step was testing for the BRCA gene. This ended up being negative and the result helped me decide which surgery I was going to have. On Feb. 20, I had a left skin sparing mastectomy with tram flap reconstruction. After surgery, I was told that three lymph nodes were found to be positive. I already knew that I had to have chemo, but then I had to decide if I was going to do radiation. I opted to do the 27 rounds of radiation after my eight doses of chemo.
Here I am three-and-a-half years later, healthy and feeling wonderful and I thank everyone who helped me with this journey. Just remember, cancer doesn't discriminate against anyone, so please remember to do self exams. There's nobody that knows you better than yourself!