Challenges of Being Diagnosed with MBC at 18 years old
Life can be hard sometimes. Life with metastatic breast cancer can be even harder. I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer at the young age of 18 years old. I was one month away from graduating high school. One month away from starting my life. That is when cancer came in and tried to take it all away from me.
I had a double mastectomy the day of my senior prom and my first dose of chemotherapy the day of my high school graduation. I remember standing on stage at my graduation with such mixed emotions. As the kids, now adults, that I grew up with gave their speeches about how the world was now ours and how our future will be bright, I couldn’t help but wonder if I had one. I was so proud of my class for how far they had come and excited to see what they would decide to take on next, but deep down I was scared, maybe even a little jealous. In my head my life was already over before it even began, but boy was I wrong.
The last four years I have been living and THRIVING with metastatic breast cancer. This journey has taught me a lot about life and myself.
One important thing I have learned is that I have a voice. We all do! I found my voice by the overwhelming amount of doctors I had to go through until I found the right one. Little 18 year old me didn’t know she could speak up about her body and what she was feeling. Eventually I realized I had to be my own advocate because I know my body best. If a doctor didn’t match my energy and didn’t listen to my concerns I knew they weren’t a match for me. It is okay to leave a doctor if you don’t feel comfortable and they are not giving you what you need. I went through a few until I found the right one who truly listened and believed in me. It makes a huge difference when you find the right doctor.
Another important thing I learned is that life is hard with or without cancer. It’s all about how we deal with the tough times. We can choose to focus on the bad or we can decide to be grateful for all the good still in our lives. I chose the latter. I’m living my life despite all the crazy that cancer brings. I moved from Pennsylvania to Florida, got a job at Universal Studios (I always wanted to work there growing up) and even met the love of my life. I guess my classmates were right, I do have a bright future, we all do. Life is what we make of it, and it would be a lot better lived if we all decided to let the love in and celebrate life for all that it is.