Hometown: Nelson, BC
What was your diagnosis? Breast Cancer stage 3 HER2/TripNeg borderline
What is your occupation?
I am a hairstylist/salon owner as well as a relief cosmetology instructor’s assistant
Your Cancer experience
When I was 30-years-old, I was lying in bed and happened to feel a very
obvious hard lump under my left breast. I was immediately shaken, as my mother
and good friend had just finished their treatment for breast cancer a year earlier. Of
course I saw the doctor right away and began my journey down the path of
“Oh, I’m sure it ís nothing; you are too young to have cancer, it must be benign.” My
ultrasound showed my lump was too hard to biopsy so they were going to have to
remove it surgically to biopsy it.
In December 2009 I was told I had invasive ductal carcinoma and the margins were
not clear, which called for another surgery. While prepping me for the revision of
margins, I was laying on the ultrasound table and happened to look over and see
another black mass as the ultrasound instrument was on a different part of my
breast. I asked the technician, “Is that another tumour?” and he was surprised I didn’t
know about it. My heart sank. It turned out that I had four more tumours that had been
missed, and different types of breast cancer nesting throughout my breast.
The doctor said it was “very aggressive” and recommended a mastectomy.
Meanwhile, I was awaiting genetic test results, but my heart told me I must remove
both breasts. In January 2010, I began six rounds of chemo in my hometown of Nelson,
BC. It was extremely hard. I was hospitalized overnight for each treatment to
help control the nausea. In May, I finished chemo and began mending to prepare
for the Bilateral Mastectomy with Tram Flap Reconstruction surgery I
had decided on.
On June 29, I had that 12 hour surgery (which went VERY WELL) and I
continued on with my Herceptin for 10 months further. I was not necessarily HER2
positive however, I was tested borderline Triple Negative/ Her2 Positive on two tests
so the docs just decided to give me Herceptin as a precautionary measure.
The summer of 2011 was spent living and loving the break in treatments, and that
brings me to now, September 2011. I just had a hysterectomy because I was found
to be BRCA1 positive, I have a high chance of getting ovarian cancer and therefore a
hysterectomy was a responsible choice for me. I am trying to go on living in
remission but there are still many obstacles I have to get around on a daily basis. I
am grateful however to be alive, I am grateful I have it as good as I do. I am always
aware it could be worse.
What were your first thoughts when diagnosed?
I knew something major was coming. I don’t want to die and leave my kids behind.
How did your family react?
My mom felt guilt (gene carrier) my husband acted strong, my kids were confused but positive.
How did your friends react?
Lost some friends, gained many new. I was actually amazed who stepped up to still see me and help me, and who just was still too busy for me.
What did your treatment consist of?
Chemo (6 FEC because I am taxane allergic), Bilateral Mastectomy with Tram Flap Reconstruction, Herceptin, Hysterectomy.
Describe the non-medical side
Chemo made me sick. Cancer made me guilty, for a long time, I felt like I had done this to myself by not eating right, working too hard,
using a microwave, drinking too much, using haircolor etc, etc.
What is your current medical status? Remission
How is life different for you now post diagnosis?
Spiritually I have grown beyond measure. I am grateful to cancer for that. Emotionally I feel strong but I struggle with fear of recurrence on a daily basis. I think there is a bit of post traumatic stress involved.
What is the toughest part of your challenge?
Staying positive every day and keeping a perfect diet.
What was the best lesson you took away from your challenge?
One step at a time. Milk life to its fullest!
What really motivated you to keep going while you were sick?
My husband motivated me, he was like my coach. Fear of leaving my kids kept me focused as well.
What are your thoughts and feelings about your illness now?
Sometimes I am resentful, sometimes I am grateful. Most days I am afraid it isn’t over. I just want to know it is gone for
What are some preventative measures that people can take to lower their risk of having an experience like yours?
Listen to your body and take charge of your own health. Don’t take no for an answer if you think something is wrong. Take care of yourself! Really!
Did you attend any support groups during your challenge?
I attended the YACC Retreat and a CBCN Young Womanís conference. Also, a local breast cancer support group. They were all amazing,
especially the YACC Retreat.
How are you connected with Young Adult Cancer Canada?
Through cancer colleagues.
Check out Megan’s blog at megandkerry.blogspot.com