Tell us about your breast cancer experience, including diagnosis and treatment:
I was diagnosed with stage IIB, triple negative breast cancer in 3/14/12. I was just 41. My tumor was 6 cm and I also had two satellite areas of approximately 2cm. I was BRCA negative and had no family history. I have been NED since 9/27/12.
What are the most important things you learned as a patient?
Humor was so important for me. Cancer at any stage is scary. The fear of the unknown can be debilitating. Humor was my way of coping with it. It kept me from nose-diving down that downward spiral, too.
What do you wish you had known?
I really wish I’d known about BCSM and other social media-based support groups when I was initially diagnosed. I didn’t discover BCSM (the first I encountered) until about a year after my diagnosis. (No, I’m not sucking up. 🙂 Totally serious!)
Where do you find support?
Aside from a strong support system consisting of friends, family and coworkers, I also found support via social media, as I mentioned above. I’ve met so many fabulous women (and men!) who’ve gone through similar – yet vastly different experiences as I have. I truly hate the reason that we’ve all found each other, but these are genuinely BFFs… Breast Friends Forever.
What is the most important advice you would give a new patient?
I tell people regularly – listen your body and be your own best advocate. YOU know what’s unusual about your body and it’s up to you to pursue it. Self exams, clinical exams, mammograms collectively are so critical to identifying and treating cancer as quickly as possible should it appear.
Cancer doesn’t always have an organized rhyme or reason but why not do what you can to reduce that risk?
What concerns you most about the future?
Without a doubt, the fear of recurrence or a diagnosis of mets is my biggest concern. I’m entering my third year since diagnosis, which for triple negative, is a huge milestone.
I don’t want my children to ever have to deal with breast cancer – or any cancer – first hand. They were just 13 and 15 when I was diagnosed and it made them grow up much faster than they should have had to. It breaks my heart to think of their risk increasing exponentially now.
What advocacy work most interests you?
Truthfully, I’m still trying to find my way here. I want people to be well-informed. It’s not just understanding the disease and how to recognize warning signs but also to understand where your money goes when supporting organizations. Do your dollars count towards research? Is it just a marketing ploy?
I do consider myself to be that “friend that gets it”. I’m no expert, but I have been there.
In my humble opinion, sometimes advocacy is the laugh, the hug or the shoulder. Sometimes it’s even telling that inappropriate joke when a laugh is desperately needed.
My Facebook page is Tales of a Broken Boobie. I sprinkle it with a little of everything. Stories, articles, stupid jokes, real pictures. I’m real. I’m honest.
My blog is talesofabrokenboobie.com. While I haven’t updated it in a while (since that’s what I use Facebook for), it does include my story from the beginning through my surgeries. It’s also got my Facebook and Twitter feeds as well.
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