By Nichole Maiorana
This past January I turned 50. I didn’t have a big celebration because everyone was still dealing with Covid, and I didn’t want to take any chances.
The years 2020 and 2021 had been challenging enough. My boyfriend had Covid in 2020 and was still dealing with long Covid effects. I became an empty nester when my son went away to college in August of 2021. I had felt positive about 2022. I was definitely wrong.
In April of 2022, I scheduled my routine mammogram. I hadn’t had one since pre-Covid and my friend urged me to get one because her mother and aunt had breast cancer. I didn’t have a family history because my mother never felt it necessary. Her mother didn’t have breast cancer and she never went for mammograms.
In May 2022, I was told I needed an ultrasound. June was when everything in my life would take a nosedive. My mother would be diagnosed with uterine cancer after a trip to the ER. She had a hysterectomy in August and she is starting chemo soon. My breast also had a biopsy and at 12 noon on July 7, I received the phone call no one wanted to get. I had STAGE 1 BREAST CANCER.
I saw the breast surgeon the following day. I was raw. I didn’t know what to think. She laid out my options, lumpectomy or mastectomy. I would need an MRI and genetic testing. There was so much information and I didn’t know what to do. Why me?
After a negative BRCA test, I decided on a lumpectomy. It was scheduled for August 2 at St. Peter’s Medical Center. The doctor said I would probably need a few radiation sessions but she didn’t think I would need chemotherapy. The doctor felt positive I would make a full recovery.
The lumpectomy was a success and the margins were clear. I was triple positive which means my tumor characteristics were HER2 positive, estrogen positive and progesterone positive, neoplastic. I would need chemo and Herceptin. I would need 12 weeks of chemo, 12 months of Herceptin, and 6 weeks of radiation and Tamoxifen.
There isn’t much I could find about HER2 positive. My doctor told me only 20% of patients are HER2 positive. Years ago, this would have been horrible news for me, but the Herceptin would make all the difference.
I’m still going through chemotherapy. I have 2 chemo treatments left.
It’s been a long 10 weeks.
It’s been a long year.
Sometimes I have felt like giving up, but then I think about my son and my parents and I keep fighting through the side effects. Some days I do sit and cry from the pain in my legs. Some days the diarrhea is so bad I can’t believe this is happening to me.
How did this happen? Was it because I’m overweight? Was it because I like to drink wine? Was it something else I did? I guess I will never understand.
I just have to keep pushing, keep going. I will see my son graduate college. I will dance with him at his wedding.
I am going to beat breast cancer, it is not going to beat me.
Thank you for sharing your story, Nichole. SBC loves you!
SurvivingBreastCancer.org Resources & Support: