Be Strong and Courageous is a motto that I live by daily! Everyday as a person with breast cancer or any hardship in life you must overcome certain obstacles. I look at this sign all of the time to give me the Strength and Courage that I need to deal with each phase of my breast cancer journey. Being Strong and Courageous is not always something easy to do, especially in the beginning when you are first going through the various mammograms, ultrasounds, and biopsies to see if you do have breast cancer. Waiting for each test result is the worst part. If you are diagnosed with breast cancer, make sure to get copies of all of your images to take to your first doctor appointment. Once you are diagnosed things do get easier because a treatment plan is put in place with your doctors and there are not so many “unknowns”. I now feel comfortable with my diagnosis because a treatment plan and timeline are in place. Don’t get me wrong, I still have to remind myself to Be Strong and Courageous!
If you look closely at the picture, you can see my Aggie Ring. I graduated from Texas A&M University in 2002. Whoop! My senior year I lived with four girls in a fairly new townhouse. Three of the girls (TM, RF, AS) lived on the second floor and I lived on the first floor by myself. I enjoyed living in the townhouse with my roommates and we created a lot of good memories from that time in our lives.
Fast-forward to 2010 and I receive an email at work from one of my roommates, RF, telling me and the other roommates that she has breast cancer. I remember shutting my office door and crying. I was thinking, how is that possible, she is only 30 years old! She tested positive for the BRCA 1 gene and was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer. Her treatment plan consisted of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. She resides north of Houston with her two boys and husband. She is doing well and has been cancer free for seven years!
Fast-forward to 2016 and AS and I receive a text message at work from my other roommate, TM, saying that she was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was in utter shock and thought, how is that possible, she is only 36! TM was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer. TM is currently at MDA and is receiving chemotherapy. She will have surgery in June. She currently resides south of Houston with her family of three and husband.
Fast-forward to 2017 and I get my baseline mammogram. I text with AS and TM and let them know what is going on and that I have to keep going in for more tests. As a sidebar text, AS and I are thinking it is statistically impossible that I would have breast cancer also. According to the U.S. Breast Cancer Statistics, about 1 in 8 U.S. women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 11% of women diagnosed with breast cancer are younger than 45 years old. Regardless with what the statistics say, I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 36! I was diagnosed with estrogen receptor positive breast cancer. I could not believe that 3 out of 4 of us were diagnosed with breast cancer! The odds were definitely not in our favor!
When I was diagnosed, I immediately met with RF and she offered me nothing but great advice and comfort. TM and I text very frequently about breast cancer. We are on reverse schedules, so she gives me chemo tips and I give her surgery tips. It is unfortunate that the three of us were diagnosed with breast cancer, but I can say that it has definitely brought us closer together and made our friendship stronger than ever! WE ARE Brave and Courageous!
Pictured above: I received the sign as a gift from my friend, AC. She is an Aggie by marriage.