When I received my breast cancer diagnosis last year, I didn’t know anyone else under 40 with breast cancer. I reached out to women 10, 15, 20, 30 years older than me. And thank goodness I did - they were incredibly supportive and continue to serve as some of my biggest cheerleaders.
But there’s something about being 34. Being told that you’re part of the 5% of women under 40 who receive the diagnosis. Having toddlers and kids who can’t grasp why you can’t get off the couch. Debating on how and when you work (aka attempt to lead a normal life) while your spouse makes up the difference in every other aspect of life.
There’s a bond that forms around women in these kind of circumstances. I like to think of it as the club none of us wanted to join, but I am so happy we’ve found each other and we’re all here to cheer each other on.
In this post you’ll meet the five amazing breast cancer survivors that I get to call my friends. It was like a domino effect - one introduction led to another and we all came together over our diagnoses and similar situations in life.
Spoiler: In 2018, we all BEAT BREAST CANCER!
We came together for coffee in the late summer of 2018. We talked, asked questions about each other’s diagnoses and treatments, and then continued the conversation through a group text. We’re still group texting to this day!
And then Brittany suggested that we form a team for the Kay Yow Cancer Fund’s fun run on February 16. NC State? Kay Yow? It took approximately two seconds for me to say yes! We decided to name our team Young Moms Against Cancer, because that’s exactly who we are. We’re moms supporting moms. We’re on a mission to END ALL WOMEN’S CANCERS!
The best part? We’ve ALREADY RAISED MORE THAN $18,000!
The Kay Yow Cancer Fund has awarded nearly $8 million dollars to fund women’s cancer research since its inception in 2007.
However, my favorite impact of the Fund is that through the funding of two mobile mammography units that service 17 counties in North Carolina, over 24,000 uninsured or underinsured women have been able to receive free screenings since 2012. This year, the Fund awarded a $500,000 grant to equip both units with advanced 3-D imagining to provide for more accurate screenings.
THIS IS WHAT WE ARE RUNNING FOR!
Help us continue to fund research that has not only saved our lives, but will continue to save the lives of the thousands of women who will be diagnosed with cancer this year.
MEET THE TEAM
Last May, I felt a bump on my left outer chest while lathering up soap in the shower. I was hesitant to go to the doctor. I didn’t want to be that nurse that freaks out about something that was so unlikely at my age. After encouragement from two friends I went in to see my ob/gyn who referred me to the radiologist. The radiologist found three tumors in my left breast and DCIS spanning the whole upper outer quadrant of my breast. I had one tumor biopsied that day. I was diagnosed with breast cancer on May 21, my parents 35th wedding anniversary, but waited until the next day to tell family. I was 32 years old, mother to Lawson (4) and Miller (2). I chose to get treated right here in Raleigh, at Rex, where I’ve been a Nurse for eight years. I had a left mastectomy in June and reconstruction in November. I will be on the hormone suppressant medicine, Tamoxifen, for 10 years to suppress the likelihood of reoccurrence.
My Alma Mater is NC State and it’s on the brick walkway outside Bostian Hall that I met my perfect match, Larry. I can’t wait to return to NC State’s campus with my family in tote to join in Kay Yow Celebration Race. I’m happy to be celebrating the good health of our team, and to remember a coach who believed that spirits can be lifted together!
At age 39, I was pregnant with my fourth boy in 2018. This was my fourth healthy pregnancy, and I felt great. The best I had felt pregnant and was in better shape this time. I was exercising regularly, eating healthy food, working full time, volunteering and so happy to be carrying another baby. Life was busy with three boys already, I did self checks regularly, was going to the doctor regularly, and just had a mammogram two years prior where I was told “You are good to go for five years.” My friend Neal and I happened to be chatting about a mutual friend that had just been diagnosed. I was praying for her and thought, I should check myself again. I felt something small, and asked at my next appointment. The spot I felt was of no concern, but the OB felt something else. She thought it probably was a clogged milk duct, but wanted to make sure.After several appointments, ultrasounds and mammograms, I was diagnosed with stage 2B triple positive breast cancer. I was 34 weeks pregnant. We decided to wait for treatment until after the baby was born.I delivered a healthy baby boy on July 2, 2018, 3 weeks early so we could start treatment. I went home July 4, and came back to Rex July 5 for my first chemo treatment.
I have completed 6 rounds of intense chemo, a double mastectomy, and recently started 28 rounds of radiation. At surgery, all 4 tumors were gone. This was huge news for us. I am cancer free now. I will continue to receive two targeted therapy chemos until July 2019. Through all of this, my boys and husband have been amazing. Wes is my husband and my rock. Matthew (13) , James (11), Blake (3) and Sam (6 months) are our children and best distraction that keep life somewhat normal for us. I thank God for my wonderful parents that have given up everything to help us through this time. Their unconditional love for all of us is unparalleled.
In April 2018 I noticed a lump in my right breast. I shook it off thinking it was probably something left over from nursing. My youngest was 16 months old at the time and I had nursed him for 10 months. The thought of it kept popping up in my head and it took me four days to get the courage to call my doctor; I had only just turned 40 and not yet had my first mammogram. My doctor ordered a mammogram and ultrasound. The ultrasound showed the area of concern and a biopsy a few days later confirmed IDC (invasive ductal carcinoma.). My cancer was ER+PR+ HER2-. I had a double mastectomy on May 22, 2018. I have two cousins on my mother’s side who had also been diagnosed with breast cancer, and sadly my cousin Connie passed away six months prior to my diagnosis. I will always remember her positivity during the 15+ years she fought this disease. I have been so blessed to have parents and sister who were able to drop everything to take care of us, and I am thankful for our family and friends who have prayed for us and held us up. I am married to my best friend Will, and we are parents to three sweet boys ages 9, 7 and 2.
I was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in October of 2017. I had some stomach symptoms on and off for a year, but attributed it to the stress of law school. I finally went in for a colonoscopy and my dr discovered a tumor. It was early stage, and I had two surgeries to remove that. During this time, I had this awful feeling like something was wrong. My Doctors kept telling me that the cancer was confined, and that it was a random event. After about two weeks of meeting with Doctors, I decided to message my OBGYN and ask for a mammogram. I have no family history of breast cancer, but I could not shake the bad feeling I had. Luckily, my OB ordered a mammogram. I went the very next day, and was called back in a few hours later where the radiologist told me, “If this isn’t breast cancer, I don’t know what it is.” I was officially diagnosed by a biopsy a few days later, which put it at about 3 weeks after my colorectal cancer diagnosis, both at age 30. I went on to have a double mastectomy December 26th, 2017. I’ve been married to my husband, Kevin, for almost 8 years. He fortunately works from home and was my nurse day and night during my recovery. I am also mom to Sebastian (6). After taking a leave of absence for one semester in Spring 2018, I’m back in law school and will graduate this Christmas! I look forward to practicing Patent Law.
We want to see you on race day. Bring the family out!
But, if you can’t join us on race day, consider giving to our team. Any donation is helpful. We have a crazy goal of $25,000, and we know we can achieve it with your help!
If you know a woman under 40 who has been diagnosed, send her my way. It would be an honor to introduce her to this group of thrivers.