What I Wish I Would Have Known

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I was just 29 years old when I was diagnosed with Invasive Ductal Carcinoma, Stage 2, hormone positive with a BRCA2 genetic mutation after finding a lump on a self-breast exam. This was just 3 months after my daughter’s first birthday when life felt perfectly normal, and I, or I at least thought, I couldn’t have felt healthier.

Once I found the lump, I waited until my annual check up visit to bring it to my physician. With me pushing my concern, she ordered an ultrasound which led to a biopsy which led to me pulling my results almost two weeks later on my lunch break at work.

Reading the words “Invasive Ductal Carcinoma” on my report was numbing. Luckily at the time I worked in the healthcare field so a provider I closely worked with quickly had me scheduled with the closest oncology clinic and breast surgeon. Once established, there were many scans and testing then a plan was set in place. This is when fight mode kicked in.

I endured 8 dose dense chemotherapy treatments, double mastectomy surgery with reconstruction, 15 radiation sessions, with daily hormone suppression for at least 10 years. I am still continuing my reconstruction surgery and will have a preventative hysterectomy at age 33.

My daughter is what keeps me going everyday, especially now when survivorship feels so lonely. Cancer and cancer treatments change not only your body, but everything about yourself as a whole. Survivorship is one of the hardest struggles when it comes to a cancer diagnosis. I am forever grateful for my life and the advancements in treatment which have made me a survivor and my new outlook on life.

I really want not only young women, but everyone to take away from my story that you must be self-aware. Know your body and research your family history. My grandmother had breast cancer in her 30s and unfortunately took her life in her 50s. I have known my family members were BRCA+ but I kept putting it off “not wanting the extra worry if I was positive.”

Knowing what I know now I wish I would have taken the preventative precautions and will now advocate for my daughter. ALWAYS advocate for your health and your family’s, it will save a life!

By: Kara Taylor