Shonte Drakeford

My heart is open to the potential that exists when I strive to keep on surviving!!! This journey is unique and isn’t easy but I take what I have and keep on going.

My name is Shonte’, I am living with Stage IV Metastatic Breast Cancer in my spine, rib, hip and lymph node. I am what they call Triple + meaning my breast tumor grows 95% from the hormones Estrogen/Progesterone + and the Human Epidermal Growth (HER2) receptor +. I also have a genetic receptor for colon cancer.  I am 31years old Married to my best friend of 16 years he is my ROCK, no kids due to infertility that involved 5 years of infertility treatments including IUI and IVF and now unable to adopt due to my diagnosis, I have a German Shepard, I am Registered Nurse, & Army Wife and I was diagnosed with breast cancer June 17th 2015. I am still “green” in this Breast Cancer life but this unfortunately will be a lifelong battle since Stage IV is incurable, I will need treatment for the rest of my life, rather its oral chemo, IV chemo, hormonal therapy, surgery, and radiation I will have to endure it all for life.

I grew up in the inner cities of Washington DC, in and out of foster care due to my mentally ill substance abuser mother, whom is stable today thank GOD!!

I’ve been dealing with my right boob since I was 25 years old. It started the day my husband returned from his first tour in Iraq. That very next day I had nipple discharge, yellow clear and I was like what is this!!! I got it checked out. They said it was benign and I had dilated breast ducts. It’s common. Don’t worry. Nipple discharge eventually over a few years turned bloody. Which was a point of concern. So I obtained another ultrasound and since age 25 I had always made it a point to get an ultrasound at the very least, so I can catch anything early if it was something brewing in my breast. They kept saying its benign and I have fibrocystic breast, meaning naturally my breast will be lumpy, painful during periods and have nipple discharge. I was told I didn’t need a mammogram due to my age. Once the nipple discharge turned bloody we went straight to surgery and by this time I had a breast lump that was deemed per Ultrasound a benign cyst. Surgery showed I had an intraductal papilloma which is a benign tumor in the breast duct and that is what caused the nipple discharge. They removed the breast duct. Once I healed the nipple discharge stopped. My lump was still there. I just knew it would have been drained in surgery. I wasn’t concerned at that time because it was a cyst and not bothering me anyway.

I went to my annual visit to the doc to check on my boob like always but I noticed I had a new small superficial lump on my breast this time and my lump that I already had felt slightly harder than usual. It didn’t feel soft like a cyst anymore.  The lump changed after I had surgery it grew wider and bigger in size and I had way more pain than usual. First they deemed it scar tissue 6 months out from surgery but this time around I become more concerned. My doc agreed that it felt harder and sent me to get a MRI. Turns out my superficial lump was just a sebaceous cyst but that “used to be cyst lump” is now CANCER.  I was called the very next day from my MRI when it’s usually a 5 day wait. So that alarmed me!! That same week I had a mammogram and ultrasound assisted biopsy of my breast and lymph node. The 5 day wait for results was the worst of my life. Waiting is definitely that hardest part.

June 17th 2015 I was called and it was stated I have invasive ducal carcinoma. I was positive for ER/PR and HER2. Initially I was stage 3 but after my bone and CT scan they found cancer in my left hip and 1 right rib and a few small spots on my spine. I had a bone biopsy to my Rib to confirm. When I looked back I noticed that I did have some hip pain a few months prior to diagnosis but thought it was sciatica and I thought I hurt my rib snowboarding, yes I’m an avid snowboarder, prior xrays showed a contusion but this CT scan showed cancer.

Although I have anxiety, nausea/vomiting, daily aches and pains, a genetic trait for colon cancer where my endoscopy and colonoscopy showed benign, I was on crutches for 3 months to prevent hip fracture, endured 12 rounds of radiation to my hip and rib, I am in medically induced menopause that causes hot flashes, mood swings, weight gain, hair thinning and skin changes, emotional stress, shots in the stomach monthly, take pills, immunocompromised, diet restrictions, and the list goes on I STILL LIVE. I embrace my good and bad days because I HAVE DAYS. Live, travel, laugh, inspire, enjoy what you have for today and not ruin it with fear of the next thing. I know in my future there are chemo treatments, IV cancer inhibitor treatments, more oral meds, scans every 3 months to check for further progression, but I have to still live!!!

Cancer is life altering and I hate it but it’s not defining my life. I focus on what truly matters for today and live beautifully as possible.