Early Detection Is Key
By: Tonya Hicks ANGEL Advocate
I remember the day I received the news I had been waiting 3 days for, from the time i had my first biopsy.
I noticed a lump under my armpit that had started to get larger. I had a mammogram in January of 2019 but it was not detected at that time. Although the lump was under my armpit, when I met with my breast specialist after my mammogram she advised me that my lymph nodes may just be swollen but was told to keep an eye out for it in case it got larger. I had taken my son to Barnes & Nobles to pick out some books for being promoted to the 2nd grade. When I saw the number come across the phone I sat down to hear the news on the other end of the line. On June 7, 2019 I was diagnosed with breast cancer at 37 years old. It was Stage 1B, Grade 3, and the tumor was 1.3cm. I was Triple Negative with Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. In addition I carry the BRCA1 gene mutation which increased my risk for breast cancer and ovarian cancer.
I wasn’t surprised when my breast specialist delivered the news as I already had a feeling it would be cancer. I gathered the information and we scheduled an appointment to go over the next steps. I don’t think it hit me until I called my twin sister next to deliver the news. It was then that I broke down and started crying. I was unsure of what to expect but I knew that I would have to have surgery and possibly chemotherapy. I couldn’t let my son see me like this so I quickly dried my tears and we finished up our visit at the bookstore and went home. No matter what, I knew that I would get through this journey by maintaining my faith and keeping a positive mindset through it all.
I respect the fact that a lot of people like to keep things private and don’t care to share when going through things such as this. By sharing my story I feel that I can be an inspiration or motivation to someone else battling this disease, but may be afraid to get it checked out.
It is extremely important to get mammograms and to do monthly self breast exams. If something doesn’t feel right, please go to the doctor or reach out to someone to seek advice. Early detection is so important. If you have a family history of breast cancer, schedule an appointment for a mammogram before the age of 40 and get the genetic BRCA testing done as well.
Through it all I have maintained a positive mindset, prayed a lot, and kept my faith in God. Never in a million years did I think I would have to battle breast cancer at the age of 37. This is not the end of the world for me and I will continue to live my life to the fullest, as I know that God is in control!