I was diagnosed in 2013 at the age of 34 with HER2- breast cancer. Through my journey, I now have triple-negative breast cancer, which means I‘m estrogen, progesterone, and HER2 negative.
I was 34 and two semesters into nursing school when I was first diagnosed with stage 4 HER2- breast cancer. Since I was in stage 4, the cancer metastasized to both lungs and my bones. I went through all the treatments for the breast cancer, including 6 months of treatments. Luckily, I did not need radiation for the breast cancer, but I did need the radiation for my bones. At that point the treatment was palliative. We were just trying to keep this cancer at bay for as long as we could. After that I was on targeted therapy for six years, getting treatment every 21 days. My life completely changed, and this became my new normal.
I was on targeted therapy until November 2017. I went to go get my PET scans with Dr. Ramirez, who was very strict in making sure that we were on target with my treatment. I had frequent PET scans. That one PET scan came back and showed that I have adrenal metastases, completely out of the blue. I had to get a new biopsy, and it came back triple-negative – that’s when my cancer diagnosis changed. From there we had to change our therapy to treat something else.
At this point, there was a brand-new treatment that came out, so I began that treatment. I stayed on that treatment until May of 2019. Everything was going fine until my body started going crazy; I became acidotic, went into metabolic acidosis, and ended up in the hospital. While I was in the hospital, I started noticing that I was having these slight headaches and I started becoming off balance when I tried to get up. Dr. Ramirez ordered an MRI and it came back that my brain had metastasized. In June 2019 I had brain surgery, and luckily, they were able to resect it. I had radiation to the brain and to the adrenal glands.
Right now, I’m cancer-free. It has been a journey.
To be honest, I just take it day by day. I have bad days. Like I tell my patients: you’re going to have those bad days. Allow yourself to have those bad days because you will have them. When you have those good days, you grab on to them and go with it.
I have honestly come in contact with such knowledgeable people. The thing that I took from Touro is that these nurses here aren’t just here to collect a paycheck. They love what they do, and it shows. The patients feel that. That’s what made me want to come to work here. Now I’m able to share my experience with my patients to let them know “I’ve been through this. I’ve been where you are.” I cry with them in the beginning because I understand. It is totally scary and continues to be scary. You just learn how to deal with it. I tell my patients “as long as you’re going to fight, we’re going to fight along with you.”
I would love for people to take advantage of our cancer support group that we have. We have a wonderful survivorship program.