"Anyone who has had breast cancer or even a cancer scare can remember the day they discovered that something was not quite right…. Mine just happened to be in April of 2013. I had a small pea-sized lump under my left breast, almost on my bra line. The crazy part was that I wasn’t even the one who found it. My husband is a medical student and just so happened to be preparing for routine breast exams for one of his university classes. What are the odds of THAT happening? Probably about the same odds as a young woman getting breast cancer at 26 – slim to none. He ended up saving my life and I have no idea where I would be without him. Being a young and very busy individual, I will admit that I was not very good at remembering to give myself the routine breast exams. Who knows when I would have discovered it on my own. Of course, I didn’t know at the time that it was breast cancer…could have been a cyst, I thought. However, my husband being the diligent medical student that he is pushed me to get it checked out by a health care provider. Nearly two months after my initial discovery, I received the call that would change my life forever. The doctor told me that I had tested positive for Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. Naturally, all of my friends and family that I told were shocked and upset. 'How could this happen? You are so young!' they said. I was advised to undergo genetic testing to see if I carried the BRCA gene. Luckily, it came back negative. Unluckily, this means this happened entirely by chance.
"My cancer was detected early. I ended up being diagnosed with Stage 1, Grade 3 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. I opted for a lumpectomy as it was recommended by my surgeon. The surgeon had good margins and removed all of the cancerous tissue. He removed seven lymph nodes and all of them came back negative for cancer. Chemotherapy, radiation, Herceptin, and hormonal therapy were all strongly recommended, as my type of breast cancer was estrogen, progesterone, and HER2 positive. Given my age, the doctor didn’t want to risk a chance of recurrence in my future.
"Despite all that I have been through (treatment side effects and all), I stayed in school through this whole process and was able to graduate from my program this past spring with my peers. Keeping busy with things other than treatment helped me feel optimistic and 'normal'. I am determined more than ever to keep moving on with my life and not to let breast cancer slow me down. I still have a very long and happy future to look forward to and I know that if I can make it through this obstacle then I can make it through anything. As Carl Jung once said, 'I am not what has happened to me, I am what I choose to become.' My husband, family, friends and instructors have all been very supportive of me during this. I can’t tell you how much that support is appreciated and needed in such a time, but I’m so glad I have it. I couldn’t do it without them."
--andreamia (Anna), diagnosed at age 26
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