‘I wasn’t sick but I was exhausted. I got a mammogram and heard those three horrible words, ‘you’ve got cancer.’ But, it was found early enough to have options. I could get a mastectomy and if no other cancer were found, that would be it. Or I could get a lumpectomy with radiation and then taking medicines forever. The decision process was really difficult. I did my research and went with what I felt what I needed to do. I was scared to death of radiation and taking drugs. I didn’t like the idea of side effects. I was more about dealing with it swiftly and decisively and getting on with my life. I worried that mastectomy might be too extreme for my diagnosis but all my friends and family told me, ‘Do it! Save your life!’

A lot of women might not know that, after mastectomy, even if it was years ago, you can get reconstruction. The technology is amazing. I’m not old enough to not care about how I look. I still want to hang on to myself and my femininity. So, I had the reconstruction over a few more surgeries. The whole process took about two years and recovery was pretty painful but I would do it all over again if I had to. It was scary and emotionally draining. It’s a huge decision but once I made it, I felt a huge peace and I knew it was right for me. The pathology came back and I was told that if I hadn’t gotten the mastectomy, the cancer would have spread.

It was hard to tell my daughter that I had cancer. I’m adopted so I got genetic testing done to make sure this wouldn’t affect her and, thank goodness, it’s not genetic. I have an amazing support system of friends and family. If my daughter ever had cancer, I’m glad to be able to draw on this experience and to empower her to get through it. I found my strength through it. I have my scars and I’m proud of them and I made it through.

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