Leslie Haywood

I was a stay-at-home to 2 beautiful daughters ages 1 and 3. I had just started a new business. Right in the middle of all that is involved with starting a company, raising two children and building my empire, my life would change again with a simple yet also very complicated call. “It’s cancer” my doctor said.

My first introduction to Breast Cancer happened at the tender age of 16, when my then thirty-something mother sat the family down to talk about the terrible disease. My mother had found a lump and after a lumpectomy, biopsies, and further testing it was determined that she did indeed have breast cancer and it had progressed to stage IV. After being told by the doctors that my mom had 6 months to live, my mother and father sought treatment from one of the most aggressive oncologists in the area who bombarded the advanced cancer with high doses of chemotherapy for a prolonged period. My two younger sisters and I watched as the treatment for this horrendous disease drained the mind and spirit of the most happy, healthy, positive person we had ever known.

After the fight was over and the battle won (YES, my mom is now 21 years cancer free and my biggest fan!), I knew that I had to be ever vigilant. Having a mother who was stage IV in her thirties, I knew the genes were not on my side.

At the age of 30 I went for my first baseline mammogram. All was well, but I knew I could never become complacent. At the age of 34 I went in to have my digital mammogram and this time something was “different”. My doctor said “I really don’t think it’s anything, but with YOU, I don’t want to mess around”. A week later they did the needle biopsy and we waited for the results, wondering if this time was going to be THE time. It was. I thought about my own two precious daughters who were 1 and 3 years old and felt so sorry for the genetic legacy that I had potentially left for them. The “something” they found was extremely small and thought at the time to only be stage 1. A lumpectomy and a little radiation would have done the trick, but I didn’t want to live the rest of my life waiting for the other shoe (or in this case… the other “boob”) to drop. I wanted those B-sized ticking time bombs GONE! Now with my bilateral mastectomy and reconstruction complete, the scars won’t let me forget, but because of my “radical” treatment choice, I feel like my personal fight is done and I can at least sleep at night. Both my mother and I won our battles, but the war is far from over. I have two younger sisters and two beautiful daughters, so my mind still can not truly leave the disease behind. My hope is that someday, we can let this disease live only in the past.