Your pathology report may say that the breast cancer cells tested negative for estrogen receptors (ER-), progesterone receptors (PR-), and HER2 (HER2-). Testing negative for all three means the cancer is triple-negative. About 10-20% of breast cancers — more than one out of every 10 — are found to be triple-negative. For doctors and researchers, there is intense interest in finding new medications that can better treat this type of breast cancer.
After a diagnosis of triple-negative breast cancer, you may be searching for information or overwhelmed with emotions. Because of this, we asked our members with a triple-negative diagnosis to share their experiences. Many have graciously responded, sharing the things they've learned, the challenges they've faced, and the hope they have for the future. Read their stories below.
Cancer Doesn’t Hurt? Thankfully, Mine Did
"I remember going into my OBs office to have it checked, and he said, 'Don't worry, cancer doesn't hurt. So, it can't be cancer.' Well, thankfully mine did hurt, or else I probably wouldn't have noticed it." Read Ag23's story.
Colon Cancer Prompted Me to Get a Mammogram
"Incredibly, the CT showed a mass in my right breast, which had been missed on the mammogram. A biopsy was done, and it turned out to be TNBC. So I had bilateral BC, two different types...very rare." Read AndreaC's story.
The Cancer Came Back in My Mastectomy Scar
"...It does not matter what type of breast cancer you have, it needs to be treated. So find the best doctors available, ask questions, phone a friend, sleep as much as you possibly can, stop trying to be so brave, laugh at yourself, and remember to live. You're here, so try to live." Read char123's story.
Lucky and Blessed: Feeling Like Me Again
"I received the diagnosis on Valentine's Day: triple negative. I was told by the radiologist that if you were going to have cancer, this was a good one to have because it responds well to chemo." Read Fiercer's story.
Fight or Flight Mode
"Although I've worked in healthcare/health insurance for 15+ years[...], including directly with cancer center communications in the past, I'm at a loss as I figure out what this looks like as I move forward." Read FredFights's story.
Riding the Cancer Conveyor Belt
"I know my chances aren't great with this lovely combo so, for me, quality of life is paramount. Before I do any treatment, I need to know that it is likely to have a meaningful result on my survival chances. I feel like I'm on a conveyor belt and I am the only check and balance in this system." Read IntegraGirl's story.
Longing for a Normal Life
"This should have been the time for honeymoon and for making babies, not for chemo, but...I just hope it will be okay eventually. I was very okay with chemo, no major side effects, no nausea...but that's not my problem. I can handle chemo, I can handle everything, as long as in the end I get to have a normal life and to live." Read Joy777's story.
I Found Support in My Friends and Family
"I had gone to my OB/GYN for my annual check up and got my referral for a mammogram. I was 39, have no family history, and had no problems before so I was surprised. Even in the breast check at my annual, nothing was felt. I thought it would have been at least one more year before I started going for regular mammograms." Read knitnpurl's story.
There Are Many Questions I Want Answers to
"They say 5-year survival is great, but recurrence seems pretty high from what I've researched so far. Don't know what my final decision will be but I am not going down without getting some of my bucket list items checked off." Read Lovebird65's story.
My Mammogram Missed a Lump I Could Feel
"At my appointment, the oncologist gave me some information that I knew was incorrect for triple negative. I asked how many cases of TN he sees per year: 5 (I live in a town of 20,000). I already had a second opinion appointment at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance for a week later. I was much more reassured by the team of doctors and nurses that I met there." Read LoveMyVizsla's story.
"Thought I knew so much about breast cancer but upon diagnosis quickly found out how little I really did in fact know. When my biopsy came in and I was informed I was 'triple negative' I was completely in the dark as I had never even heard of it." Read LRM216's story.
"I will always get a second opinion on any biopsy (and suggest this for family members) because it is an 'art' not just 'science.' And it also appears that radiology is also a bit of an art." Read Marymac5522's story.
"I have avoided most of the internet unless I see info that is positive in nature. With a diagnosis like this and enough people with a pity look, I dont need to read the negative. My husband is the researcher and I let him. I have my own job of fighting this disease." Read Milwmama's story.
"I was convinced it was nothing more than a cyst, so I didn't go to the doctors until March 15, 2016 for shoulder pain, but he referred me to the breast clinic because it looked as if the cyst was about to explode off of my chest." Read Mrs774's story.
"A few months ago I found a lump in the same location as my previous cancer; surprisingly, it was a local recurrence that was now TN. In the back of my mind I worried about local recurrence, but never knew things could change so dramatically...." Read NancyHB's story.
"I was watching the radiologist perform my US. She then suggested that we do another mammo. After the mammo, she said, 'How do you feel about a biopsy right now?' I obviously said yes. " Read nonybalony's story.
"Naturally my first thought was to show the doctor my full iPhone calendar and tell him I have no room for this nonsense!!!! However given the seriousness of the 'triple threat,' I listened quite intently and wiped my calendar clean for the next 5 months." Read Nordgirl's story.
"I first noticed something was wrong with my right breast when I had experienced ongoing pain. I had my mammogram in mid-January and was called back in February for a biopsy. I received my cancer diagnosis two days later on the job," Read quietstorm325's story.
"Triple negative is not a death sentence. Many of us ladies are thriving after diagnosis." Read Scoobydoo's story.
"I was diagnosed in January of this year at age 25. I had found a lump the previous August and felt like it appeared overnight. I went for an ultrasound [...] and was told everything was fine." Read seejuliago's story.
"I am recovering from surgery and patiently waiting for the pathology results. I am staying positive as the most important part, getting the tumor completely out, is over. I trust my medical team [...], and find relief that they are treating me as an individual/unique case... " Read skdc's story.
"My providers say there is now a 40% chance of recurrence even with treatment, but I'm determined to be one of the 60%. Third time is a charm right?" Read Stephanotis's story.
"This disease really makes you look at your life and how you want to live it and be thought of or remembered for. It makes me appreciate the many blessings I have and helped me stay positive in my continued fight." Read Survivor2Be's story.
"I have gotten nothing but good news during chemo, I am doing a lot better physically than mentally and not sure why I can't get my mind wrapped around this." Read Tootsiek's story.
"I'm focused on enjoying every day. I don't take anything for granted. I'm nicer to those I love and those nice to me, but I'm faster to not take any crap. This is my life right now and I'm living it. It's great to be alive and I appreciate it." Read VL22's story.