Melissa –

“For any other women going through this same journey, be sure to take care of yourself and just remember, things will get better!”

I was first diagnosed with Invasive Ductal Carcioma Stage IIA breast cancer back in 2005 at the age of 32. I was single, living and working in Manhattan. I ate healthy, exercised regularly and was really just enjoying my life.

I always made sure to go to the doctor regularly and went in for my annual exam, when the nurse practitioner felt the first lump. She sent me straight to see a radiologist, and after numerous mammograms, sonograms and several biopises my doctor told me I had cancer. 

After all the procedures, I was not surprised at the diagnosis but the thought that cancer had possibly spread was unthinkable to me. Breast cancer did run in my family, as my parerntal and maternal grandmothers both had gone through breast cancer. Knowing all of these things, I knew I had to see a genetic counsler and make a big decision on whether or not I should have a bi-lateral masetctomy of a double mastectomy. After testing negative for both BRCA1 & BRCA2 genes, I decided for a bilateral mastectomy.

I couldn’t deal with the thought of losing my hair, and even facing the reality that I may not be able to have children. With my head spinning, I had to come to terms with the fact that my entire life just completely changed because I had cancer. My treatment was 8 rounds of chemo, and the Thursday before my 2nd treatment, my hair began to fall out. This was one of the worst days of my life, or so I thought at the time. I bought wigs and tried to carry on as normal as possibly, but it was a battle. I wouldn’t go anywhere without my wig, I was too scared. No more running down the street or dropping in at the gym.

No one can possibly imagine what you go through as a woman having breast cancer. The hair loss, saline shots, chemo, losing your breasts and even early menopause. Not to mention any side affects from you treatment. It’s all really exhausting and just unfair.

But I managed to get through it. Talking with other survivors and reading their stories has brought me so much joy and kept me positive. While there isn’t a day that goes by I don’t think about my cancer and if it will come back, I am very lucky to have had such supportive family members and friends during that difficult time. Fourteen years later, I am cancer free with a beautiful 9-year-old son and so thankful.

For any other women going through this same journey, be sure to take care of yourself and just remember, things will get better!

Are you a survivor, loved one, or support system? We’d love to share your story to inspire others across the US.