At age 28 you don’t expect to hear you have cancer. I went in for a routine check up, and while being examined my doctor asked if I notice that my nipple was inverted inward. I explained that its been like that for a few weeks along with a brownish color discharge from my breast, but I didn’t think anything of it as it wasn’t a lump nor was it bothersome. She stated that she wanted to order a baseline mammogram along with some labs, from prolactin levels down to thyroid testing. Several days went by with lab testing, ultrasound and another mammogram as the first one didn’t show anything abnormal. I really wasn’t nervous at the time, because I didn’t expect to hear anything bad like cancer as it didn’t run high in my family.
After a second ultrasound, I then knew something wasn’t right when the ultrasound technician seemed somewhat distance and reserved and went to get a doctor to look at the monitor. From that momemt on it has been one emotional roller-coaster. I was told I had invasive ductal carcinoma grade 3 cancer and was told it was triple negative. I was clueless to what it was and was numb from hearing the word Cancer. I was told that this cancer mostly effects young woman and is an aggressive cancer. However with surgery and chemotherapy I would be just fine. After a few other testing, biopsy and the results of my BRCA, it was highly recommend I get a double masectomy and hysterectomy and complete 6 rounds of AC. But being only 28 and selfishly thinking of myself with not having any breast or not being able to have anymore children; along with being scared out my mind, I opted out from them taking both of my breast or getting a hysterectomy. So I ended up just having a lumpectomy with sentinel node biopsy in October 2008. After completing 6 rounds of chemotherapy (no radiation because they caught it early) I was cancer free and worried free……at least I thought.
Until June 2013 I passed out at work, I’ll never forget July 4th 2013 (my oldest son birthday) I heard that horrible word CANCER reenter my vocabulary. After several scans and testing I was told the cancer had returned in my right breast. I thought I was heavily medicated and they was just talking jubberish until I seen my oncologist and a general surgeon come in. It was confirmed again that I had cancer and I needed to get surgery immediately. From July 2013 to February 2014 I had undergone several surgeries including a double masectomy with lymph node dissection, hysterectomy, even reconstruction surgery. 10 rounds of chemotherapy completed……..I was winning!!! I assumed I had cancer beat at this point, I kept saying I’m gonna beat this thing for the second time. Sadly to say it wasn’t until after a PET scan I learned that the infusions wasn’t responding and a new mass beneath my sternum was found and the cancer is now metastatic. Numerous scans, several surgeries, and a ton of hospital stays, I’m still standing. Currently undergoing clinical trial placebo treatments at MD ANDERSON CANCER CENTER in Houston, Texas and also locally at MASSEY CANCER CENTER in Richmond, Virginia we’re still hoping and praying for a new chemo cocktail to respond the cancer, and hopefully to get the bone marrow transplant that’s needed( fingers crossed & praying ).
Having to sit down to inform three kids and your family that the cancer has rapidly spread, and they now consider you terminal, is devastating. Though some may say youre too young for cancer, you don’t look sick or you’re going to be just fine, I dont feel as if it will be ok. Hearing terminal and you need to get your affairs in order was heartbreaking, I knew then my fight with cancer had now taken a turn for the worse, and everyday now is a struggle. I cant put in words how I actually feel, because most of the times I blame myself…..had I just had the double masectomy when I was first diagnosed in 2008, maybe I wouldn’t be here now still fighting. Then its that feeling like your on one big emotional roller-coaster, one minute I’m sad, the next minute I’m upset then there are times I find myself asking God why me, but I’m at peace with it all and I tell myself every morning God only will give me what he knows I can handle.
My kids is what keeps me going, they are the reason I’m still fighting with a smile on my face. My daughter who I feel deserves the world, at 19 that young lady has kept me and her brothers afloat during some trying times. She’s not only my son caregiver, but she played a role as second mom to her brother’s. Currently waiting on her date for basic training for the Airforce she’s still my rock and the piece that holds everyone together in this. My boy’s 16 and 13 have been the main reason I participated in this clinical trial and research study. Since my daughter left they have became my “little big men” (mama boys, lol) watching my every move, asking every minute if I’m ok, do I need anything, but most importantly trying to keep me busy and moving.
Cancer doesnt just effect me, so trying to hold on and stand strong themselves at age 19, 16 and 13, I made a promise to my children. I told them the day I heard I’m Cancer Free all four of us would take a trip and celebrate life together, but I wasnt going to have a big party with tons of people, cake and pretty pink cancer survivor stuff…….nah this time we (“The Fantastic Four”) was going to celebrate life together in Florida for a week; rent a nice vacation house and go to Universal Studio’s, as this journey over the last two years for us has been rough and tough.
So if I could make one wish come true, it would be just that……for “The Fantastic Four” to celebrate life together with nothing but love, tears of joy, fun and laughter. It doesn’t matter to me now whether it’s celebrating my life cancer free, the fact that I’m still here, still living and still fighting , and still enjoying whats important to me is enough at this moment. Though God has the final report, I hope & pray to keep my promise to them with being able to celebrate life in Florida, but to also beat cancer like I promised them as well. ~Chanda
If you would like to help us grant Chanda’s wish, make your donation today! www.ShaySharpesPinkWishes.org or mail it to:
Shay Sharpe’s Pink Wishes. P.O.Box 11763. Baltimore, Maryland 21206