Something is wrong: An unlikely diagnosis

“Something is wrong,” I said to my mom on the phone, standing in front of the bathroom mirror. 

While my left breast had felt heavy and painful for several weeks, wearing a striped tank top it was obvious it was also rather swollen. 

I took off my shirt and began to work my fingers in a circular motion around my breast. It was tender, sections were hard and upon caressing the bottom, yellow discharge expelled.

Yes, something was wrong. 

A trip to the hospital resulted in a quick dismissal. I didn’t fit their profile. I was “too young.” They did not feel a lump. My breast was not red. 

“We don’t do breast screenings in the ER,” they said. “Talk to your primary care doctor.”

What came next was a mammogram, an ultrasound, a negative result and ultimately, a misdiagnosis; antibiotics for a breast infection with no probable cause or related symptoms.

More than six months went by, the pain continued and so did the discharge. Something was still wrong, but it wasn’t cancer, right?

At the appointment with my OB/GYN to officially start trying for my first baby, I mentioned my painful breast. She agreed more screening needed to be done. 

I was referred to an incredible breast surgeon who was not satisfied with inconclusive results. She recommended a different mammogram and another ultrasound — still we had no answers. But it was her recommendation for a breast MRI that saved my life. Suddenly, what we were unable to see for months was brightly displayed on film in the form of almost an entire breast lit up with contrast. 

The look on her face was concerning. 

A biopsy was scheduled soon after. And on December 30, 2016, with my mom and my husband by my side, I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 26. 

I remember looking around the room, searching for the person who was just diagnosed with breast cancer.

It could not have been me? They said I was “too young.” My mom told me to think positive and I did. 

I remember my breast surgeon drawing pictures and explaining the science of breast cancer. I heard nothing. 

“Okay,” I said after my hysterical laughter turned into tears. “What do we do now?”

In the months that followed, I tackled a bi-lateral mastectomy, five weeks of proton therapy radiation, two hospitalizations due to soft-tissue infections around my expanders and the following year was no easier. 2019, was the first year in two, I didn’t land in the hospital for one reason or another.

My body has been through a lot, but it is stronger and more resilient than I ever knew it could be. And because it continues to keep going strong, because I have been given more chances than a few to continue going strong, I’m determined to turn my wounds into wisdom.

Written by: ANGEL Advocate, Jasmine Dionne Souers @bravebeauty26, co-founder of For the Breast of Us @forthebreastofus