Team Heather and the Komen Organization became a big part of our lives back in 2004, long before my diagnosis. Now it has taken on a whole new dynamic for me and my family.
December 14, 2019, I found a lump in my right breast while taking a shower. I called my doctor immediately, got an appointment and was scheduled for a mammogram which showed a ~2-centimeter lump in my right breast and a swollen lymph node in my right armpit. On January 8, the news came it was cancer in both the breast and the lymph node. My initial diagnosis was Triple Negative Breast Cancer Stage 2. A subsequent PET scan showed lymph nodes in my neck near the clavicle and a node in my chest, changing my Stage from 2 to 4 which was devastating. Because of the nodes near the clavicle and the one in my chest surgery was not very probable for me.
Beginning in February I went through 9 months and 2 different types of treatment of chemotherapy and immunotherapy. During this period COVID hit with a vengeance. Dealing with my diagnosis, treatment, and the stress of COVID isolation took a severe toll on me both physically and mentally. It was a very dark time for me. I couldn’t sleep, became severely depressed, and developed severe anxiety. I struggled with fighting all that was happening to me. Eventually working with my care team, we found the right combination of medications and counseling to deal with the insomnia, depression, and anxiety, I started to become more myself and able to focus on fighting my cancer again. My mantra became Not Today cancer.
Good news came in July when my PET scan showed that the lump in the breast had significantly shrunk, nodes in arm pit had shrunk, but all nodes still lit up. Then in September my PET scan showed all areas were resolved except the nodes in the armpit. We were making progress in the right direction!
In October, my treatment was changed to Troveldy, a new chemo treatment that was approved by FDA in April 2020. I learned that Komen had a role in the research and trials on Troveldy.
My February 2021 Pet Scan and CT scan in May 2021 showed no evidence in the armpit node. After 15 months of treatments my doctor said my cancer is in remission. However, because it is TNBC S4, unlike other types of breast cancer where remission means you can stop treatments, I can’t. I will continue the Troveldy treatment plan indefinitely. This has been the tough part. Living with cancer. My treatment schedule is a 21-day cycle. This has a huge impact on my lifestyle which I am still struggling to coming to terms with. The good news is that I have tolerated all the treatments well thus far with minimal side effects. I have mild fatigue, lost all my hair which more than likely will not grow back due to ongoing treatments (another aspect I am still trying to come to terms with), some mild neuropathy in my feet, taste buds aren’t quite what they were. My appetite is good, and I have maintained my weight through this whole process. My doc is very happy with how I am doing clinically.
This past year has been hell. I struggled many times with the will to fight. Were it not for the support and love of my incredible family, friends, and care team I could not have gotten to where I am now. I feel good and I’m not giving up. My mantra (stolen from Game of Thrones) to cancer continues to be……. Not Today.
I am very happy to have the opportunity to give back to Komen as it has given me so much in so many ways. For me to personally benefit from the efforts of Komen and all the years of fundraising means everything to me and my family. I am living proof of the benefits of Komen, and for that I am forever grateful.
Your support helps us get one step closer to a world without breast cancer. Funds raised help support breakthrough research like that resulting in the treatment I am benefiting from right now and help for the people facing breast cancer today who need our support now, as much as ever.
In moments like this, your generosity can make a real difference.
Will you please join me in this fight and please consider making a tax-deductible donation today in support of my fundraising efforts.