Advice from a Handful Survivor -- Amy
Diagnosed While Pregnant, Handful Breast Cancer Survivor Amy Shares Her Journey
Learning that a breast cancer diagnosis isn’t an automatic death sentence, but allowing herself the grace to grieve, Amy offers her best advice on navigating the anxiety and fear, working with your healthcare team and how to process it all for those who are starting their journey with treatment. This is her story…
How did you learn that you had breast cancer?
I was about 4 weeks pregnant when I felt a hard lump on my left breast. I put it in the back of my mind, because I knew I was pregnant and figured it was likely changes in my breast. I also knew I had my first OB appointment in about 3 weeks, and she would do a breast exam. My OB did in fact feel what I felt, and she referred me for an ultrasound and biopsy. At 10 weeks pregnant, I received a phone call informing me that I have breast cancer.
Do you have any advice for others who are just starting their journey?
It is your body, your journey, and your life. Always listen and take in the advice of your Healthcare team, but ultimately you must come to a decision that you are at peace with. If you don't know, that's okay too! This isn't easy and these are tough decisions, so give yourself grace. Your Healthcare team is there for you, so utilize them as much as you need! If you ever feel like they aren't supporting you, or they aren't the right fit, don't hesitate to request a second opinion or a different doctor. Be your own Advocate!
Another important thing to remember is that it's OKAY to grieve! Whether it be the thought of losing your hair, losing a breast, lifestyle changes, etc. Grieving is a part of the healing process.
Lastly, remember that cancer is NOT an automatic "death sentence." You are a Fighter!
What was the hardest part of it all?
The hardest part for me was receiving my diagnosis, trying to process it, while also trying to get a grip on my anxiety and fear of losing my and my unborn child's life. The unknown can be paralyzing at times.
The other hard part for me was post-treatment, when things quieted down, I was no longer attending several appointments, and waiting for my 6-month follow-up scan. The anxiety crept back in, worrying that they didn't get it all, or that I was going to have a recurrence. Four years later, and I'm still coping with the anxiety, especially leading up to a scan, but I'm happy that I can say it continues to improve with time. Not without emotional setbacks at times, but this is normal and a part of the healing process.