october: breast cancer awareness month

October 16, 2014

I'm not really sure where i want to go with this post, but as i sit here & watch Beyond Candid with Giuliana Rancic the Breast Cancer Special, i can't help but want to share my story. if you follow me on #instagram, you may have seen my post regarding my experience. if not, here it is.

it was november 2010. i was 22 years old, planning a surprise vacation for my then boyfriend's birthday/christmas. i was so excited for it. it would be our first real vacation together. i saved up for it & couldn't wait.

after recently paying off my ridiculous debt, i was working at a local gym. i loved it. i had worked at 3 gyms in my town, and besides bar tending, it was my favorite place to work. this gym had tanning beds, and at the time, i was addicted. typical jersey girl. 

one night when i was closing up, i jumped in the tanning bed before i left. for some reason, i decided to do a self exam. i had never done one before, or even thought about doing one. i was too young. why would i? 

wait. what is that? i found a marble sized mass in my right breast. it felt like marble too. pretty dense. again, i was 22. why would this be here? i really didn't think too much of it. i figured i would go to my GYNO, and be done with it. so the story continues ..

at first, my GYNO said "i don't feel anything. don't worry about it." not possible. i found it again, and put her finger on it. There. it's right there. her eyes popped. OH.

she sent me to get sonograms. which came back suspicious and referred me to a specialist. this shattered my mom. i remember her texting me while she was at work, really upset. why are they sending you to a specialist? you are too young. i don't understand.

i wasn't super worried at this point. I'm not sure if its a blessing or a curse, but it takes a lot to make me worried/upset. i knew this was serious, but i also knew that if i fell apart, it would create a domino effect. so that wasn't possible.

it was time for the vacation. i needed it more than ever at this point. i was probably such a bitch to my boyfriend looking back. i had a feeling that if things went south with the results, they would go south with my relationship too. i think i was more concerned about that honestly. i knew that when we got back home, something, if not everything, was going to change.

he was an early bird & i loved to sleep. but one morning, he woke me up at like 6am - just before the sun came up. i remember being so tired and just wanting to go back to bed. but i thought, when i go home, something is going to change. enjoy life.

we went up to the top deck (we were on a cruise) and watched the sunrise. it was so beautiful. it was symbolic. it was a new day & i was getting to see it. i was ready for whatever was ahead.

back to reality.

i went for a needle biopsy. they pulled up the mass on like a ultrasound type of image, i am not sure if thats what it actually was. but it was pretty cool. i was able to see the marble sized mass. it was pure white. the technician was trying to get the needle into the mass, but it was so dense that nothing could penetrate it. of course. just my luck.

the specialist then decided that its best that we go in & remove it, since there wasn't much else we could do. i agreed of course.

it was the day before my boyfriend's birthday, how dramatic. he stayed over the night before, planning to go with me to the hospital, then go to work. the morning came. i was nervous. i drove with my mom & remember being really sad. i stayed quiet. but i was petrified at this point. 

we got to the hospital, i remember the waiting room so vividly. they called me back. i got dressed in my gown & waited for my mom & boyfriend to come back to see me before they wheeled me back. i kissed everyone. here we go.

to my surprise, i woke up to my boyfriend. he had told me he was leaving for work, but he stayed. i remember being super happy about that. the doctor came in to see me, telling me everything looked good but we obviously had to run tests to be sure.

about a week later, i went back for my post op visit. i needed to get my stitches out. the results weren't ready yet. fabulous.

the next visit was good. the news was great. everything came back benign. i was healthy again. i had to go back a few more times just for the dr to keep an eye on my healing process. he told me that scar tissue could form and begin to feel similar to a mass again. so he wanted to make sure that IF that occurred, we could figure it out ASAP.

it was now early spring, and by this time, my boyfriend and i had broken up. he knew i had my last & final appointment to be officially cleared. he kept in touch with me that day, making sure i informed him of my status. i was cleared. it felt like the longest roller coaster in history that i was finally stepping off of. i couldn't believe it.

everything had changed. i was 22 years old.
i can't help but urge everyone to do self exams. you're not suppose to get mammograms until you are 40, i think, but that doesn't mean you can't be proactive. you never know. early detection gives you a 98% chance of a positive outcome. don't waste time. 

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