Meet the Fighter – Angie

October 3, 2019…it was a good day until it wasn’t. =I was 37 years old. I was married with 3 boys aged 18, 15, & 12. There was no history of breast cancer in my family.  I had no reason to get a mammogram.

…until my husband found a lump in my right breast. I knew the moment I felt that it wasn’t supposed to be there. After a mammogram, ultrasound, and biopsy, 6 days later I was diagnosed with Invasive Carcinoma-triple negative breast cancer…grade 3 of 3… a Nottingham scale 9 of 9. This means I was diagnosed with the most aggressive and ugliest form of breast cancer😔

I am healthy. I worked out every day. I eat healthily. I take care of myself. How did this happen to me? As we drove away from the doctor’s office on October 9, 2019…I turned to my husband as tears were rolling down my face and yelled, “I don’t want to die!”

I got connected with my Medical and Surgical Oncologists and I was told what my options were, chemo and a double mastectomy, or chemo, lumpectomy, and radiation.

I was freaked out to do both. I was not ready to make a decision about what type of surgery I was going to have. However, because of the type of cancer I had, my Medical Oncologist suggested that we do chemo first to start attacking the cancer cells immediately and he wanted to start ASAP! He laid out the timeline for me… which included 16 rounds of chemo. Then surgery. Then 6 weeks of radiation every day. Then another surgery 6 months later (because I had breast implants prior to cancer, I had a couple more steps in my journey)…if this was the direction I was going to go. The total was 15 months!!😳

A few days later, I had surgery to insert my port for chemo, my amazing friends threw me a “Kick cancer’s ass” party, and the next week I started my first round of chemo! NOTHING could prepare me for what this journey would entail. I had NO🙅🏻‍♀️idea what cancer patients went through. NONE! And so, I shared my journey and experiences very openly on social media.

Tuesday’s were chemo day. After my first round of chemo, I lost 8 pounds in 5 days. I couldn’t eat. I threw up non-stop. I was very weak. BUT, I held onto hope that the next round would be better! My doctors gave me more meds, & the next round WAS better…it still sucked, but I wasn’t throwing up. After my 2nd round, my hair started falling out, I shaved it and got a wig to wear to work…but otherwise, I rocked my bald head! Then, my 3rd round was my breaking point. I actually had the thought that I couldn’t fight that fight. I didn’t want to keep going to chemo. I couldn’t do it anymore. It was too hard. Luckily, those thoughts didn’t last long, and I continued my battle. The steroids were terrible and caused me to not only gain back the 8 pounds that had lost-but another 13 on top of that. I felt completely out of control of what was happening to my body.

I had amazing family and friends & the way God worked in my life was absolutely incredible!

I continued to work full-time. My brain was a foggy mess. I was dizzy 95% of the time I was awake. I was in bed most nights by 8:30 pm. This was hard for my husband and boys-they did a lot without me because I wanted their lives to keep going, but I knew I couldn’t keep up with them.

Time continued on. Chemo kept going. It was destroying the tumor. I stayed healthy. I made it on our previously planned family trip to Hawaii in March of 2020. Then COVID hit. We got back from our trip and I had to finish my last two rounds of chemo & doctor’s appointments by myself-no one was allowed in the clinics with me.

It was time to make a decision about surgery. I battled in my head for so long about what would be best. But, neither option seemed best. I kept thinking, “I am never going to be at peace with my decision…because there will always be a what-if?” One morning I woke up and it was very clear, and I felt good about my decision for the lumpectomy and radiation. So, surgery was one month after my last round of chemo. I had to wait another couple weeks-then radiation started. I really had to train my brain to not think about what I was actually doing. I just walked into the cancer center every day, was greeted with beautiful smiles and wonderful people everyday, laid on that bed for a few seconds, got dressed, went back to work, and did it all again the next day🤷🏻‍♀️ I couldn’t think about it. It freaked me out. Radiation kicked my butt. Within a couple of treatments, the fatigue was so extreme I could hardly make it through a day…and then the radiation burns came. I ended up cutting many workdays down-taking ‘leave without pay’ because I had already exhausted all of my sick and vacation time.

Then, 7/7/20 was finally here! The day I got to ring that bell 🔔 My last day of treatment. The feeling I had that day was like none other. Nine months prior, I had no idea if I was going to make it to this day. It was hard. It was a rollercoaster🎢 of emotions…and little did I know then, that I wasn’t getting off the rollercoaster anytime soon.

Now, I had to figure out how to live life after cancer. Every ache and pain I had-I wondered about. So many “what-ifs”. Then, within a couple of months-I had more concerns. More scans. And a lesion on my skull was found. That lesion ended up causing pretty extreme problems for me-severe headaches and pressure. A neurosurgeon decided it was best to remove it and determine what it was. By the grace of God, it ended up being a benign bone tumor (Osteoma). However, I was certain my cancer had metastasized, and I was planning out my final time here on earth. That month was hell. Shortly after that-and where I sit now, I’ve had more scans and have two more spots on my lungs-of which, it has not been determined what they are. Again, the crazy mind games. The rollercoaster 🎢. The “what-if’s”.

This journey has changed me.

🙌🏼 448 days from the day we found the lump until my last surgery.

🙌🏼 over 100 doctor appointments.

🙌🏼 4 surgeries.

Because of all of that 👆🏼, I don’t stress over small things anymore.

I wake up each day and give thanks to God simply because I have another day.

I’m thankful for what I have.

I don’t really care about what I don’t have.

I cherish the little things and each moment I have with my friends and family.

My faith is stronger than it has ever been.

This journey has taught me the true meaning of “life is short”. None of us are guaranteed another day on this beautiful planet 🌍…so, we all need to live with a little more purpose, more love, and less hate💕