My name is Morgan DePaolo and I was diagnosed with breast cancer in September 2015. I was having symptoms for a while, but I thought it was just an infection in my breast due to breast feeding. Breast cancer doesn’t run in my family and I breast fed my daughter, which I thought reduced the risk! Also, at the time I was only 23 years old! When I was finally diagnosed after the mammogram and biopsy, I was told that I had Ductal Carcinoma. I opted to have them both of my breast removed out of fear. I knew I would never want to go through something like this again.
The year 2015 was very bitter sweet for me because I graduated from Pennsylvania State University, then four months later, I was diagnosed with cancer. I’ve been resilient in the face of adversity all of my life. I’m a survivor and I’m very grateful despite the circumstances. Unlike many other cancer patients I did not have to have chemo or radiation; just a double mastectomy.
The worst thing that happened during the recovery was the infection that developed in my breast, which kept me in the hospital for a few days and caused me to have another surgery the week before I was about to go back to work. So, instead of me being out of work for six weeks I was out for ten.
I have a four year old daughter who I raise by myself. When I was diagnosed cancer I was so afraid for my daughter. I knew I would be okay and I had faith. I knew I would have to take a medical leave from work, and work is all I know. I worked extremely hard to take care of myself and my daughter. I didn’t know how I was going to keep up with my bills. Also Christmas and my daughter’s birthday were both less than a month from my surgery. Luckily, I was blessed with a great support system and I applied to tons of non-profits who helped me financially. I always keep a positive attitude and try to seek the good even in the worst situations.
The photo you see is a picture of my daughter and I on her fourth birthday. I was two weeks post surgery with four drains in my body. I’m very tenacious and determined. I refuse to let cancer tear me apart. Right now I’m going through reconstruction with the tissue expanders. My body has changed drastically, but I still feel the same on the inside. I feel empowered, grateful and inspired. I’ve meet tons of inspirational men and women and I have become apart of an extremely supportive community.