"Breast cancer? What is that? I used to think, 'Oh, that’s for the older ladies' and I would never think about it, even though it was everywhere, media, people around me. But I wasn’t scared of it, as it didn’t apply to me, I was too young as far as I was concerned. I come from a healthy family where there is no heart conditions, diabetes or cancer. I was 35 at age of diagnosis and I am from Ottawa.
"Here is my story:
"It was an evening after work and I was unwinding and laying on my couch with my hand over my head and just relaxing. I often had a bad habit of putting my hand under my shirt and just keeping my hand warm. I was watching TV when I felt something deep down in my breast closer to the underarm. It felt like some tiny baby grapes all clustered together. Then being in the medical field I realized, 'Oh, silly me, I have glands there, so it’s probably just swollen glands.' I had just finished breast feeding earlier in the year and my glands did used to swell up here and there.
"Few weeks passed and I would play a game with myself in the shower and see how long it took for me to find that same spot that I had found earlier.
"Weeks passed and interestingly enough, I had a large number of clients who had breast cancer in their early 30s. When they told me, I was utterly shocked it was even possible to get it early. I mean they emphasize mammograms for everyone 50 and above, so in my head it wasn’t even a thought.
"I remember that day I called to make an appointment with my family doctor. When I went there, she reassured me that most likely it's swollen glands but to have the mammogram all the same. I felt better that she didn’t scare me in saying I could have breast cancer. I had my mammogram a few weeks later and remember getting the phone call the same day from my family doctor. She told me that they found something and it wasn’t a cyst and that a biopsy was required.
"My world started to fall apart in my front of my own eyes. My husband reassured me after I broke down in tears and told me that nothing is confirmed and to wait until biopsy before I started even having bad thoughts. I regained my strength and put it behind me.
"A week passed and I had the biopsy. It was a week later I got a call from the doctor for her to see me. I went alone. She looked like she was going to cry. She told me I had breast cancer and an aggressive type. I laughed at her and said, 'Oh ok, now what?' She explained that they needed to stage the cancer and that there were going to be many tests. At that point I couldn’t hear anything she was saying, my mind was in a bubble and I felt like I was trying to escape but it kept me retained.
"I went to my car and called my husband and said, 'I have cancer' and burst into tears. I went home and cried and cried. My husband picked up my kids and I had to switch off entirely and become the normal mom again. There was no way I was going to let my 1- and 3-year-old girls see me defenseless. I was determined to do this entire battle with minimum disruption to their lives.
"A few days passed and I started getting phone calls for appointments. It was never-ending. I didn’t realize how serious everything was. I wasn’t too worried, but I was certainly lost. I tried to reach out to people who had breast cancer but really didn’t know anyone. I remember talking to my cousin who had it 4 years ago and she put me straight and told me about chemo, surgery, and radiation. I cried on the phone but just wanted to absorb more information. I needed more information to learn about everything.
"It was only after doing some research on the web that I found Breastcancer.org. This website saved me from going insane. It had all the answers I needed. I made friends with people who were going through what I was. I felt like a lost soul and when joining the site, I was guided and felt protected. Any questions or fears I had, I turned to this site. When I was scared, my buddies were there for me. I made a few friends from my home town, who I stay in touch with now. If we have any concerns we reach out to each other.
"The site gave me everything I needed in terms of knowledge about what I was going through. I had questions for every stage, I remember the ladies telling me about when my hair would fall out, my nails would go brown, the aches and pains, so many situations, but I knew about it all and was well prepared in advance. No one judged me and I never felt alone. I am very thankful that this site was here. It made my journey much easier. I do sometimes go back and just check up on my girls. But for now I am enjoying my life cancer-free.
"A big thank you to Breastcancer.org. *hugs*"
--redninrah, Ottawa, Canada, diagnosed at age 35