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Young Women CAN and DO get breast cancer. Newly diagnosed patient shares her journey with us. By Guest Blogger Glee Edwards

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My Breast Cancer Journey”

My Bio:

I’m 31, single mom of an 8 year old boy name Jalen, part-time student, full-time employee, I love drinking, eating, running, walking, exercising, being healthy, spending time with my friends, dating, having fun, laughing, being honest, smiling, and just living life as it should be lived. I currently reside in the White Marsh area, and I love my life. I’ve overcame many struggles in my life and I’ve used every one of those struggles as stepping stones to mode this beautiful, young woman, strong willed, God fearing, loving, caring, outspoken, woman I am today.

The Beginning:

February 2012, I went to visit my ob/gyn for my annual physical. During my visit I discussed with him that I felt a lump in my left breast. He then began to do a breast exam and he informed me that it was just a cyst without receiving any additional follow-up care. After that I continued on with my life without feeling that something could be wrong with me.

The Next Year:

February 2013, just when I was about to schedule my yearly annual physical with my ob/gyn, I was informed that he had killed himself. I was shocked. He was the Hopkins doctor who was taking photos of his patients, so you can only imagine how I felt at that point. I still wasn’t experiencing any symptoms from the lump in my breast but it was still there.

May 10, 2013, my birthday. I just turned 31 and I was feeling myself. My friends and taken me out to Blue Agave for dinner and I had a wonderful time. After the dinner I went to visit a guy that I was dating and he was sick, he had a cold. The next day I began to feel sick also. I treated my symptoms as a cold but it was affecting my left breast. My left breast began to increase in size and I was experiencing sharp pains. After a week of my cold not getting any better, I went to Patient First to checked-out for my cold and my breast. I was then diagnosed with Bronchitis and the doctor immediately wrote me a referral to American Radiology to receive a mammogram.

May 22, 2013, I received my first mammogram.

May 28, 2013, I received a biopsy of the lump in my left breast.

June 4, 2013, I was diagnosed as having breast cancer.

June 11, 2013, I had a consultation with Mercy Breast Center, where my surgeon did an exam of my left and right breast and then she indicated that I have Stage 3 Breast Cancer in my left breast. She indicated that I would have to have a mastectomy, chemotherapy for a year every three weeks, radiation, reconstruction, and that she wanted to check to make sure if the cancer had spread to my lymph nodes under my armpit on my left side as well.

June 13, 2013, I had my first appointment to receive a PET/CT scan and to have blood work done. I had to have these test done to make sure that the cancer didn’t spread throughout my body.

June 14, 2013, I had to have a MRI performed to locate any abnormal findings from the cancer.

June 17, 2013, I received my results from the scans and the cancer did spread to my lymph nodes.

June 18, 2013. I had a consultation with my Oncologist, where we discussed treatment plans, medications, and leave from my employer.

June 19, 2013, I had a biopsy performed of the lymph nodes under my left armpit which indicated that cancer was visible. I also had genetic screening testing to rule out any hereditary factors.

June 21, 2013, I had to repeat my PET/CT scan due to some of the radioactive dye not getting through some of my tissues.

June 24, 2013, I had my first surgery. I had my port-line placed so that I can receive my chemotherapy medications.

June 25, 2013, I had to receive a MRI guided biopsy of my right breast due to some unfamiliar findings but they weren’t cancerous and a MRI of the left lobe of my thyroid.

June 28, 2013, I received my first chemo treatment. It wasn’t as bad as I thought but as the days went on, I’ve noticed the effects on my body, now this is when it got interesting.
1. My body became very weak. Wasn’t sure on how to adjust so I continued to do things as normal, which wasn’t a good idea.
2. I passed out twice and not to sure for how long because I was home by myself.
3. I noticed that I could stand for long periods of time without feeling dizzy.
4. My appetite changed due to the chemo affecting my taste buds.
5. My tailbone was extremely sore from my Neulasta injection.
6. My legs became weak.
7. I lost 5lbs in a day.
8. I started to have indigestion.
9. My vision became blurry.

July 2, 2013, I had my consultation with Plastic Surgeon to discuss my options for reconstruction.

July 5, 2013, I had a follow-up appointment with the Nurse Practitioner at the chemotherapy center and to also have more blood work down. My lab results were good and I discussed all my symptoms from the first chemo treatment and everything was normal except for passing out, so she informed me to take my time getting out of bed so that all my blood wouldn’t rush to my feet.

July 7, 2013, I started to feel like my normal self again so I went back to work. I put back on the weight that I’ve lost, I was smiling again and overall I felt good to be back at work.

July 12, 2013, my hair began to fall out.

July 13, 2013, I scheduled an appointment with my hairstylist to cut all of my hair off.

July 19, 2013, I received my second chemo treatment. With this treatment, my potassium was low and my Oncologist wanted to prescribe me some potassium meds but I told him that I didn’t want to take anymore pills because the only reason my potassium is low is due to my high blood pressure medication so we decided that I would increase my daily intake of potassium via high rich potassium foods. I was ready to experience the same effects from the first treatment but this one was different.
1. I had a headache or I like to say “Chemo Head.”
2. I became nausea after taking some pain meds for my headache, which I didn’t take anymore.
3. My legs and body were extremely weak and all I did was sleep.
4. I lost 5lbs again, which later, once I started feeling better, I gained back.
5. I experienced pelvic and lower back pain from my Neulasta injection.
6. Still have indigestion that I relieve with drinking Ginger Ale soda.
7. My vision wasn’t as blurry as the first treatment but wasn’t clear like normal either.

July 22, 2013, I got one of my homeboys to shave the rest of my hair off. It was still coming out and clogging up my sink.

July 29, 2013, I went back to work again. I’ve noticed that the chemo wipes me out for about eight days than I began to feel like my normal self again.

July 30, 2013, I had a follow-up visit with my Breast Surgeon. She performed another breast exam and then informed me that the chemo has shrunken my tumor and my lymph nodes and that my body was responding greatly. We discussed that my surgery to have my breast removed will be in November 2013, she wants me to follow-up with her again before the surgery. I’ve chosen to have both of my breasts removed because I don’t want to go through this experience again since they’ve already found something in my right breast even though it’s benign. Total I receive about eight bags of intravenous medications in which, my chemo meds are only two bags, so the remaining bags will continue for the length of my year battle, but on October 11, 2013, two of my chemo meds I will no longer need to receive. She stated that during my surgery, she and the plastic surgeon will be doing their part. Her part to remove both breast and the lymph nodes under my left armpit and the plastic surgeon will place fillers into both breast areas to keep my skin stretched after I receive my radiation treatments.

August 4, 2013, I received my menstrual, which was very confusing. I was told that chemo would put in my body in a menopausal state but I guess my body chose otherwise. I was happy because my body was actually fighting back. I’m not too concerned with having anymore child but this was a good sign.

August 9, 2013, I received my third chemo treatment. So far so good but I know what to expect this time so I’m just patiently waiting for the symptoms to arise. The only new thing thus far is that my cuticles are sore, swollen, and turning gray.
Next chemo treatment is August 30, 2013.

My Friends:

It was very sad for me to break the news to my friends, but some of them took it very well, while others didn’t, which was suspected. The number one person whom I’m totally disappointed in is my best friend. I can’t and won’t even try to understand her because I’m tired. She has crushed my feelings in a way that I can’t even formulate words to explain and I must let her go. We haven’t been really close for some years now but she was always in my eyes still my best friend. As for the rest of my friends, old & new, they have been really here for me showing a tremendous amount of support and I’m truly blessed to have them. We are fighting this battle together.

My Family:

I must say that everyone in my family, both mother and father sides, are really here for me. Some have even went to great lengths to setup a fundraiser to help with the cost of my medical and personal bills during my journey, some have purchased food for me, made me meals, and overall has been here at 100% for me and my son but I’m totally disappointed in two people, my youngest aunt and my own father. These two people, at the current moment, I don’t even talk to anymore. I’ve never seen such selfish people in my entire life and I’m a Taurus. The hurtful words that I’ve received from the both of them are truly unforgivable so I’m leaving that in Gods hands and I’m staying positive and focusing on my year long journey to kick cancer butt.

My Dating Life:

I’ve been dating two guys on and off but been focusing on one since April 2013. The first guy is very well known in Baltimore, nothing to brag about, but he was a decent guy and we had fun hanging out until he got caught up in his feelings. I’m the type of person who will not lie so he began to ask me questions that he really didn’t want to hear the truth as the response. He told me “Fuck You” and good luck with your cancer journey because he doesn’t need people like me in his life. I guess the “Truth” hurt more then he expected it to. While the other guy who I started to focus on, I began to notice a pattern of change. He began to distant himself from me, so I would on occasion ask him does it bother him that I have cancer, and he would reply, No, but his actions spoke a different language. I didn’t really want anything serious with either one of these guys because I’m finally enjoying being single and learning how to date but I’ve come to notice that you can’t “Date” in Baltimore. Anyway, with this guy, he stopped saying “Good Morning” to me everyday, he never asked “How are you feeling?”, he didn’t say anything, so I decided to reach out one more time before I truly gave up on him and I told him that when he is ready to communicate with me like an adult then he knows my number. Needless to say, he never communicated with anymore until Friday, August 9, 2013, my third chemo treatment, once I posted a picture of a mutual friend of him and mine on the social networks then he wanted to talk to me again. I was going to set my feelings aside but I couldn’t. So I said how I felt and that was the end of him. I don’t ask anything from any man and I’m tired of being misunderstood. So yes, I’ve come a long way of expecting so much from men because when they need or needed me, I’ve never hesitated at all but I learned that these men really didn’t care too much about me. Yes, it hurt like hell, but I’m Glee and I sucked it up and focused all of my attention on this fight to save my life. I can’t let cancer get the best of me.

In Summary:

This journey, thus far, has been a great learning experience for me and I don’t regret any of it. I stopped expecting people to be here for me and started appreciating the people who actually put fourth the effort that wants to be here for me. I would’ve never thought in a million years that I would have breast cancer due to the fact that I’m the only one in my family on both sides who is the first to have it. Nope, it’s not genetics and my results from my genetic testing came back negative. I know my strength and I know that I can win this battle but emotionally, it hurts like hell to know how cruel people can be once you have an incurable disease that isn’t contagious. It doesn’t take much to ask “How are you feeling?” but I guess it does to some people. Because of cancer, thus far, I’m a better person, and I refuse to let cancer kick my ass without a tough fight. I will win this battle against breast cancer.

This is my story up to now.

My Journey Continues…

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