When I was first diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer, I initially thought, “why me?” Now I wonder, “why not me?”
When I was diagnosed with stage 2 triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), my entire world came to a halt. I was just 29 years old, a wife, a mother, working as an ICU RN and had just started my own business.
Like every thriver would say, I didn’t have time for cancer and itsendless doctor’s appointments, chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, scans, labs, medication, the list goes on.
I thought to myself, “Why me? Why is this happening to me?!” I was young, I had no other illnesses, no family history and I was in the best shape of my life. I was exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight and eating healthy. I did everything “right.”
The truth is cancer doesn’t care. Cancer doesn’t care how healthy you are, how kind you are, or how busy you are. It can strike you at any moment. Cancer is a jerk!
For that reason, I knew I had to show cancer who’s boss. I had to reach deep within my soul and learn to depend on my faith and my strength to get me through this battle I was up against.
I remember the radiologist who did my initial scan told me, “Women who tend to do the best with this are the ones who have a good attitude.” I also had a good friend and fellow survivor tell me, “Whatever you do, keep your mind where it needs to be to fight this battle.”
Those words stick with me to this day because I found them to be very true. Where the mind wanders, the body will follow.
TNBC is a very rare and aggressive form of breast cancer with limited treatment options. So, I had to move fast. Just two weeks after receiving my diagnosis, I got my port placed and was already preparing to start fertility preservation. The egg freezing process only lasted two weeks and the following week, I was already receiving my first round of chemo.
Sixteen rounds, a bald head and 20 pounds later, I rang the bell and I finally felt like there was a light at the end of this dark tunnel.
I must admit, chemo was the hardest part of this entire journey, especially going through it in the middle of a Chicago winter. However, I had one hell of a support system, and I’m forever grateful for that. My husband drove me to every single appointment and every single treatment, waited in the car for hours while I received chemo (he couldn’t come in thanks to COVID-19 restrictions) and drove me home to care for me while I was ill. I couldn’t have done it without him!
After chemo ended, I had a brief, four-week break and then had a lumpectomy with sentinel lymph node removal and biopsy. Then there was another four-week break, followed by radiation.
With each segment of treatment came its own side effects and adjustments. Even now, I’m still on immunotherapy and oral hormone blockers, which comes with side effects as well, but I make a conscious effort not to dwell on the numerous hits my body has taken, and instead focus more on the fact that my body told me something was wrong and prompted me to get checked in the first place.
I choose to give myself grace and rewards for small victories.
As I’m nearing the end of treatment, I’m finding peace and happiness again. I’m finding purpose in my pain and using it to propel myself forward, navigating my way through survivorship with therapy, exercise, advocacy and empowerment.
So, the question now is, “Why not me?”
Until there is a cure for this horrible disease, I will continue to fight and be resilient. I truly believe that what I’ve endured will not be in vain. God has a new purpose for my life and my hope is that, as I discover my new self and that purpose unfolds, I can inspire other women like me. I hope that I can remind them that just like some of the most beautiful flowers, they too can blossom through the mud.
This post was written and submitted by Jazmine Sanders. The article reflects the views of Jazmine Sanders and not of CURE®. This is also not supposed to be intended as medical advice.
For more news on cancer updates, research and education, don’t forget to subscribe to CURE®’s newsletters here.