We have started a new feature on our web site called #YourFight. It provides a chance to let readers share their battle with cancer in their own words. We will be featuring these stories on a regular basis. If you would like to share yours, follow the link here to find out how. The stories and treatments you will read about are specific for each individual and may be different than your own. These posts are designed to tell the stories of the reality of cancer and it’s impact on our lives, not as medical advice. If you or anyone you know is going through similar battles, we encourage you to be an informed health consumer and seek professional medical advice.
Today’s story comes from 33 year old Jessica. (@aviva727 on Twitter) We have followed Jessica for quite some time and have been a witness to her battles through her posts and tweets. We applaud her for having the courage to share. Read below as Jessica describes, in her own words, her battle with cancer.
33 year old Jessica~~~#YourFight
My name is Jessica, I am 33 years old and I am currently battling breast cancer. I was born in New Hampshire but have been living in Miami since 2001. I moved to Florida a year after I graduated from the University of New Hampshire. I went there without a job or an apartment or any idea what I would do. I worked at the Loews Miami Beach Hotel for the first four years I was there however I am now working for the Miami HEAT. I am a big sports fan as well as a lover of the beach and sunshine so it is an ideal place for me to be.
In July 2008 I tested positive for the BRCA 1 gene and the possibility of getting breast cancer became a lot more real. Both my mother and grandmother had breast cancer and passed away from it so I always knew it could possibly also become my reality.
On October 19th 2011 my life changed forever when I was diagnosed with Grade 3 Breast Cancer. I thought that I had done everything I was supposed to do, I was proactive and diligent in my screening every year, I ate fairly healthy and exercised on a fairly regular basis yet here I was getting the news that I really did not think I would ever hear. On October 12th I had a mammogram and ultra-sound as I did every year. The only difference was this year there was a lump detected which was not there 10 months ago when I had an MRI. I was in the chair in the office being told that I need a biopsy to test a 2 cm lump in my left breast. Immediately, I was a basket case and the tears were flowing at the possibility of having breast cancer. On October 17th, I went in for the biopsy which was fairly quick although they said it would take 3-5 days for results. I got the call that my results were in 2 days later and I remember it as if it was yesterday. It was 9:30 a.m. and I was sitting at my desk at work trying to figure out how long before I could leave and go to the doctor’s office, I just knew that it had to be good news. I walked into the office and sat down, not entirely sure how the process worked or what I was going to hear. The next 30 minutes were a complete blur. They were talking and I am sure I looked like I was listening, I may have even been nodding my head but I checked out as soon as I heard the word Cancer. The dreaded six letter word that I hoped never to hear! It is hard enough to process the information yourself but to think about telling your friends and family is something I wouldn’t wish on anyone. Unfortunately there was no easy way to say it. There was no other way to be except blunt. So between tears and sobs I called to let them know that I had been diagnosed with breast cancer. For every person I told, it came out of my mouth easier but by no means did it feel any better. I spent what seemed like hours in that office telling my family and friends who loved me dearly the news that had ultimately change my life and theirs forever. My good friend Kim said “Okay, we have ONE day to be sad and depressed and then it’s time to plan how we are going to kick Cancers ass!”
I always knew that if I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer I would have a double mastectomy to have the lump removed but I had never really thought much past that point. I had never thought about whether I would have chemotherapy, radiation or choose to go a healthier route and do what is commonly referred to as “alternative” treatments. Here I am about 8 weeks since my surgery, and feeling great. I opted to not have the 4 months of chemotherapy that the doctors suggested but rather to treat with high dose Vitamin C IVs, glutathione, juicing and raw foods as well as colon hydrotherapy.
Looking back on these months that have now changed my life forever I wonder if there are things that I could have done differently. 3 years ago when I found out that I had the gene I could have drastically changed my diet, or maybe if I wasn’t a scared 30 year old I could have chosen to have surgery then? It is hard to look back and ask yourself the ‘what ifs?” because I do not know what would have happened or even how it could have changed the present. So here I am February 2012, and I am happy with the decisions that I have made both regarding my surgery and my post surgery treatments. My doctors both at Mass General Hospital where I had the bilateral mastectomy and at the Santé Center for Natural Healing where I am currently being treated have been amazing and ultimately saved my life so how can I say that I would do anything different?
This disease does not affect just me however and I am not sure that I could have made it this far without the amazing support system I have. I am truly blessed with the most amazing friends, family and co-workers. They have supported me along this crazy rollercoaster journey as I went through all the emotional ups and downs. Whether it was the surprise party I was given from my girls at work complete with “Just Beat It. Jessica” t-shirts and a amazing survival gift basket for my recovery both in and out of the hospital, to the trips my family took to Miami to take me to doctors appointments, the time given up out of everyone’s life to focus on my recovery and of course the time I needed away from the office to get well. There have been a lot of sacrifices made for me over the past few months as everyone put my health at the top of the list and people donated their time and money to help get me back to 100%. There are so many little things that made my days easier and I think if I list them all I will be here all day but I can say that without my family, my amazing friends and my #HEATfam I could not have gotten up every day to fight off this awful disease!!!
I have about another month and a half of treatments that I need to finish before I can head back to the sunshine, palm trees and ‘heat’. This part of the journey is actually more difficult for me then the surgery was due to the politics of this disease. Unfortunately my insurance does not cover the treatments I am getting like it would if I was getting chemotherapy so my family and I are challenged with covering these costs. In addition to getting up every day and fighting to make sure that cancer is never a part of my life again I am also blogging on my website www.justbeatitjessica.com, tweeting and posting on my facebook page to try and not only educate people about this awful disease and the ways that they can avoid this path, but I am also trying to raise money to help cover the expenses from my treatments and to also cover my bills while I am not working. The reality of the situation is that if I do not come up with around $30,000 I will have to stop my treatments even though I am not finished, and go home.
I can’t wait for a day when it does not matter if you want to treat your disease with what is currently considered traditional medicine or alternative medicine, but rather just treat your disease with the best possible care you can get…and your insurance company doesn’t care….they just cover it! Until that day comes I will continue to fight with everything I have to “Just Beat It.” because I am a WARRIOR and a SURVIVOR!