On March 19th, 2021, after having an intense workout, having endured a year as nurse
during the pandemic, as well as enduring a very tumultuous divorce that was failing at
mediation, I noticed “dimpling and striation” on my left breast, that wouldn’t fade, after the
removal of my sports bra. When I proceeded to do a breast self exam, I immediately palpated in
my “tail of spence” (armpit), a hard, fixated lump, and a 2-3+ palpable cord that extended all the
way to my nipple. Being prescribed a progesterone only birth control pill, I knew that this was a
thrombophlebitis that could only have occurred if hormonal cancer was present in my breast, so
I immediately called my OB GYN, and was seen in the office emergently on March 22nd, to
which I was expedited and scheduled for a mammogram on March 25th, even though I am 39
years old, with no close family history of breast cancer.
After undergoing my first Mammogram, I was emergently forced to have an Ultrasound
guided biopsy of 3 suspicious areas in my left breast that was sent out for pathology. No one
could talk me out of what I already knew, “I had breast cancer.” My doctor called me, and cried
with me, on March 30th, confirming my worst fears. It has been a whirlwind ever since. I told my
children, Ava (10 years old) and Jaxon (7 years old) that I had cancer, but no matter what,
nothing was going to happen to me, that very same day, that I spoke to my doctor.
On April 21st I had my first ECHO to ensure that my heart was in good working order for
treatment to start. This would continue every 3 months until the completion of my cancer
treatment. The next day I had my first MRI guided biopsy with a 9 gauge needle. I didn’t know
they made needle sizes that big, and I am a nurse! At the completion of the procedure, I went
out to the changing room, and noticed the pressure dressing and my hand, and blood-stained
johnny had at least a half pint of blood loss, and needed help fast. I pulled the cord for the
emergency team, and I got rushed back to radiology to have a stitch placed on my insertion site.
After I felt better, and maintained NPO status, I walked carefully to the other campus across the
street, unattended by anyone, to the Rosenberg building. While waiting in the waiting room, my
former co-worker grabbed me and somehow orchestrated me to receive special treatment, and
expedited everything related to the port procedure.
I was discharged and at my sister’s home
recovering, earlier than expected.
Chemotherapy began on May 3rd and some side effects were immediate. I had loss of
taste, 50% hair loss even with “cool-capping,” loss of eyelashes, loss of eyebrows, systemic
rash that made my chemotherapy change from one drug to another, new chemo that still gave a
nonsystemic painful rash, bloody noses, impetigo in my nares, and mucous membrane burns. I
experienced the rare side effect of a laryngeal hemorrhage, that literally silenced me for 9
weeks, facilitated me to take steroids, antibiotic therapy, and antifungal therapy, and got me to
be followed by an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist, as well as a speech pathologist. Placement
of a device to help the surgeon mark and navigate the infected lymph nodes surgically, that
failed to register on the day of surgery, and failed being capable of being removed, was another
let down. Chemotherapy ended on July 19th, and I was hopeful that I had a “complete
response” to Chemotherapy.
On July 21st, I had my second ECHO, ensuring my heart was unchanged, since prior to
chemotherapy, as well as another MRI and Mammogram on August 3rd, to ensure I was able to
have my scheduled radical left breast mastectomy with lymphatic reconstruction, and placement
of implant, on August 27th.
Between surgical follow ups preceding surgery, covid swabs, infusions of antibodies,
Pre-Admission Screening, I finally had my surgery, on August 25th, instead of August 27th, and
was led to believe that my surgery was a huge success, and I was discharged home to recover,
the next day.
On August 30th, I had my first postoperative Plastics appointment, to which they
removed one of the drains in my armpit, told me to finish the 7 day oral regimen of antibiotics,
while leaving 1 drain in my armpit, in place. The drain site continued to get red and irritated, well
after the oral antibiotic regimen was completed, and I informed my surgical team of my
concerns. They were not concerned and were directing me to have a licensed nurse, to remove
the 2nd drain on September 8th, according to the decrease in drainage output.
I saw my
oncologist, September 9th and received devastating news that I did not actually have a
complete response to chemo, as already assumed and reported. It was a very emotional day for
me, because I already had the mindset that I only needed radiation after surgery, but now being
told I needed to have “The Red Death” of chemotherapy, Adriamycin and Cytoxan (AC), for 8
weeks. Feeling defeated, I still rallied forward to defeat this Breast Cancer Monster.
Saturday September 11th, was a wonderfully validating day for me. I had had a lovely
walk with my friend, and was grabbing coffee, in the center of my town of Sharon, MA, when an
elderly woman had a medical emergency that I responded to. Everything went seamless for her
and she was treated appropriately and effectively, while I developed severe complications of a
MSSA bacterial infection in my left breast, causing intense pain, redness, and swelling. I was
admitted to the hospital for five days, on September 12th, awaited cultures of the bacterial
infection, and received IV antibiotics that were not improving my prognosis, as well as another
drain placement in my left breast.
Finally, once the cultures resulted, and I was placed on the
proper IV antibiotics, I was discharged home on September 17th, to manage all my IV care
every 8 hours, and administering my own IV antibiotics, by myself, through my own central line,
as well as my drain care and management of the infection, as well as my left leg graft site, that
still refused to heal from surgery, back in August, I finally turned a corner and slowly began to
improve. As I continued my 2 week course of IV antibiotic infusions, the new left breast drain
was removed in my Plastic Surgeon’s office, on September 22nd; however, the left leg graft site
dehisced on September 24th.
The 4 way conference for divorce went productively well on September 30th. I was diligently
executing wet to dry dressings on my left leg, when I happened to notice something metallic in
the wound bed. I pulled out a staple and continued with my treatment plan, and informed my
medical team and staff, on October 1st.
I received my first chemotherapy infusion of “Red Death” on October 5th, with very little
side effects noted, to date, had my Divorce Discovery hearing on October 7th, with very positive
feedback from my council, and she predicted to the judge, that we plan to finalize things in 60
days, which is very promising for me to see light at the end of the tunnel, ensuring that I can put
100% of my focus on battling my breast cancer, as well as parenting my children, to the best of
It has been a treacherous long dramatic road, but I am starting to believe that I am
immortal. People have always told me that “God only gives you what you can handle.” My life is
proof of this, because I have always believed that I will forever conquer all of life’s obstacles.
am humbled by this opportunity to bring awareness to early detection, treatment, and cure of
this horrible disease, so that others are empowered to never neglect their own health. Breast
Cancer doesn’t have to be a death sentence, even if life’s adversity throws you for a loop. Just
keep your head down and plow forward, would be my best advice.
am overwhelmed with emotion to be selected for this honor of support, and again
humbled by PurelyBoston selecting me as a recipient. This is my breast cancer journey, to