The Reality of Breast Cancer in your 20’s

Just married.

Litchfield-Plantation-wedding-photo Heather-and-Cameron Corina-Silva-Photography-103.jpg

Dream wedding.

Heather  Cameron Litchfield-Plantation-wedding-photo Corina-Silva-Photography-1482.jpg

Perfect honeymoon.
Amazing convention for my company.

A few days later, my world flipped upside down…

Rewind on how I found my breast cancer. After feeling a lump for months and thinking it would go away, I finally went to get it checked. The OBGYN didn’t think it was anything serious, but it seemed protocol to move me on with the next step since there was an obvious lump. My surgical doctor literally said, “we will biopsy this after your wedding, because we don’t want cancer to ruin it!” in a joking manner. She didn’t even know why they referred me to get it biopsied except the lump had a little blood flow in it. I giggled a little, thinking it was nothing.

After all of the excitement in June, I finally went to get it biopsied. Again no worries – the doctor just thought it was a fibroadenoma. Four days later, she walked in with a breast cancer book. Mind you, I was alone at this follow up appointment because they made me feel like it was no big deal. I didn’t even pray about this appointment because I was so confident it was nothing! Holy smokes. I literally told the doctor to “shut up” and I don’t remember much else.

For the next few days I cried A LOT. I was scared. I felt sick to my stomach. I asked God why. What did I do so wrong in life? Why was I being punished? I was healthy, young, worked out, ate healthy, and didn’t feel bad whatsoever. But that’s the thing. Cancer does not care. It does not discriminate. You can be the fittest yoga instructor out there and still cells can go bonkers and change. And that my friends is the scary part (and why I take health and my products in my home so seriously now).

I knew I had to get my head right. I wanted the cancer removed immediately. For a piece of mind, I received two opinions at two different cancer centers in the Carolinas. Both agreed on the same plan. It was ultimately up to me to decide between a lumpectomy or a double mastectomy. Being a young woman, I decided to go for both since I plan to live many more years! Plus I didn’t want the fear of wondering if it was in the other one too, but I totally understand this surgery is not for everyone. After deciding to go with a double mastectomy to eliminate the fear that it was in my other breast, everything quickly started to get set in motion. Between this appointment and surgery, I prayed a lot. I had TONS of prayer warriors praying too. You should see the massive stack of cards I have saved in my office. We prayed for no lymph node involvement, prayed it hadn’t spread, prayed my body would accept implants the first surgery (majority have to get expanders in first), and prayed for peace of mind. The day before I had a peace come over me.

My surgery was successful and after nine hours, they were able to reconstruct everything with implants the first time. I just learned recently how unusual it is for them to be able to do this the first time without expanders, so I thank the Lord my body and blood flow allowed for it. My breast surgeon and plastic surgery were amazing and they really made me feel comfortable every time I met with them. Find a doctor you like – it makes a world of difference in this situation!

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Post 9 hour surgery

Recovery was rough- my mom said I was green coming out of surgery ha! I was super nauseous from the anesthesia, so that was probably the worst part. I have friends who were not bothered by the anesthesia though. If you have a double mastectomy and reconstruction, your chest will be wrapped with tape to hold them in place. You will not feel human for about two weeks when you have drains in the sides of you, but don’t worry you can get through that part. My husband and mom rotated draining them because I don’t do blood very well. (Props to you nurses out there!) If I can get through this part, you can. Celebrate every good thing – if you get 2 drains out, celebrate it. When you get the next 2 out, celebrate it. When you take your first shower, celebrate! Count your blessings constantly!! Stay positive. This phase will be over before you know it.

Getting the news that there was no lymph involvement felt like winning the lottery. We were SO thankful and blessed. It essentially meant to me that my cancer was gone. Out of my body. Chemotherapy was still recommended as “precaution”, although my holistic doctor who treats cancer patients says they may have been too harsh with their recommendations since mine was not advanced. I had 8 rounds total – 4 “red devil” and 4 taxol sessions. The first session was the worst for me, but my nerves were also through the roof. The “red devil” is truly a devil, but you can do it.

Once you know what to expect, it becomes easier. Fear of the unknown was one of the hardest struggles for me.

My advice for this season of treatment is to figure out when you can eat and eat when you can. Take your preventative nausea medicine (it didn’t work for me, but others told me it helped them). Sleep if you can through your treatment. Find a chemo buddy. I will never forget the old man that became my “buddy.” Every time we had a session together, he would greet me “hey chick!” Always so chatty and sweet. He truly made a difference in my sessions and I’m crying as a type this because he had been fighting lung cancer for years, but was getting along just fine! There needs to be more people like him in this world.

Yes, the hair fell out. Then the eyebrows left and you start looking like Lord Voldemort from Harry Potter and friends, LAUGH! It’s okay! Laughter is good for the soul and you need to laugh through this season of life. Hair grows back! You will never complain about your hair or eyebrows again. Another perk!

If you or someone you love have just gotten the news and you’re wondering how you’re going to do this, I’m going to tell you the top 5 things that helped me during the waiting periods, the unknown and the scary moments. If you are not a Christian, I’d love to share my story with you.

  1. My faith

Highly recommend looking up healing verses and repeating them to yourself. Repetition everyday.

  1. Mindset and positive affirmations

Examples of mine:

I am strong. I am healthy. My mind is always positive. I have an amazing support system. I will beat cancer. I will have a large family.

  1. Someone who was going through what I was going through

Even if you don’t know this person, it is nice to chat with someone going through what you are going through because the truth is, only they can relate to how you feel. Don’t be afraid to reach out to people who are going through what you are – they may need you even more than you need them. No one else can really relate to you.

  1. Family and friends – understand that they WANT to help you.

I hated knowing I couldn’t do anything for myself. Just realize that they want to help and it changes your perspective. Think of yourself in their position – you would want to do anything to help them.

  1. Find a doctor you like!

This is a huge one. All of the appointments can be overwhelming and you want to find one you get along with, and feel like genuinely cares about you. My breast surgeon and plastic surgeon were both amazing, made me feel relaxed and comfortable. I never minded an appointment with them because of this. After chemotherapy, I found a holistic functional medicine doctor to heal my body and get my immune system back to normal. Highly recommend!

You got this friend. 

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