My Breast Cancer Story Age 31

Hi everyone, I decided it was time to post and share my story for awareness since it is so important to be aware of your body, trust your instincts and ALWAYS get a second even third medical opinion…

1 in 8 women are diagnosed with breast cancer. Unfortunately, 6 weeks after our wedding (can you believe that?!) I was the one at age 31….

I found the lump on my own in the shower not even doing a breast exam! I went to a reputable breast doctor who told me I had nothing to worry about and that the lump was a fibroadenoma (benign tumor common in women in their 30’s) I could have listened to this doctor and went on my merry way however my gut was telling me I needed a second opinion.

The second doctor also thought the lump appeared to be a fibroadenoma but wanted to biopsy it just to make sure. A few days later I got the call that I never expected, a call no one should ever have to receive. “You have breast cancer.”

I fell to the floor into my new husband’s arms having zero idea what the future would hold. Even this doctor was shocked, so shocked that they tested my DNA to make sure the pathology report wasn’t an error!

I have no family history of breast cancer and tested negative for the BRCA gene. With the help of family and friends we researched and met with the best doctors in New York. I am so fortunate to have found the lump on my own and caught the cancer early. “You saved your life Therese.” I heard over and over.

Doctors are seeing breast cancer more and more in women and men in their 30’s even 20’s!! The scary part is mammograms don’t start being covered by insurance companies until age 40 if there is no family history.

I went to Albany with other survivors and lobbied about lowering the mammogram law. Thanks to Shannon’s law that was recently passed in New York State most women 35 years and older will be eligible for mammograms. It is not everyone but it is a start!

My cancer was Stage 2A E+ P- Her2+. Since chemo puts women in menopause my husband and I went through fertility preservation before treatment started where we were able to freeze 6 embryos. I had 6 sessions of intense chemotherapy over 18 weeks and had a double mastectomy with reconstruction. My surgery pathology report showed no residual cancer, it didn’t spread to the lymph nodes and I had a 100% success rate of treatment. I can now proudly say I am CURED and CANCER FREE! I just completed my 18th infusion of Herceptin for Her2+ cancer. I will have to take tamoxifen (estrogen blocker) for at least 5 years and my husband and I are considering surrogacy even though I always dreamed of carrying my own baby because of the potential risk of a recurrence.

I was able to keep most of my hair using the digni cap (cold cap worn during treatment that freezes your hair follicles) This of course isn’t covered by insurance companies but lobbyists are working on it! They cover wigs they need to cover the digni cap!

The good news is they have come so far with treatment and knowing exactly how to treat different types of breast cancer. The bad news is they really still do not know what is causing it. For me having no family history and an estrogen positive cancer some theories are the birth control pills, an acne medication spironolactone that can disrupt your hormones and of course the environment and food we eat.

I cannot express the gratitude I have for my doctors at Weill Cornell and Mt Sinai, my faith, my husband, our parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, coworkers, even strangers and other survivors for the ongoing support and prayers over the past year. Thank you for holding my hand throughout this nightmare.

The storm is coming to an end and I finally can see the light. Life can change in an instant. We were on cloud nine as newly weds and this hit us like a ton of bricks. We refused to let this keep us down. We bought our first house and our marriage is so strong. If we can get through this we can get through anything!

I promise to be there for others affected by this horrible disease. If you or anyone you know are going through this please do not hesitate to reach out as I have learned a great deal and am happy to share my experience, strength and hope.

With love,
Therese

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