My name is Monique Costa and I’m 32 years old. Finding a lump in my breast one night completely changed my life and I knew this one was different. I had a history of fibroadenomas but they always came back benign. I called my doctor right away. The next few days consisted of endless scans, a biopsy and then getting a call at work that I had breast cancer. My doctor didn’t think my lump was anything to be worried about and it took us both by surprise. I remember bawling my eyes out and packing my stuff to head home from work. I was so scared, angry and upset that I heard these awful words that no one wants to hear. Many doctors appointments later, I was diagnosed with stage two, triple positive breast cancer at 27 years young.
Being diagnosed with breast cancer at such a young age, I felt so alone. Every time I went to the doctors, the waiting rooms were filled with older ladies staring at me. Never in a million years did I think I would have to go through chemo and lose my hair or get burned from radiation. I didn't know that my life would consist of constant doctors appointments, scans and the fear of the unknown.
My journey started with a lumpectomy and lymph node biopsy. After surgery, I had 6 rounds of intense chemo (TCHP) and a year of Herceptin infusions. I then had 33 rounds of radiation. I’m currently on Tamoxifen and a monthly injection called Lupron for 5 years. I'm In menopause and it’s a ton of fun… not! The silver lining is I will complete my 5 years of hormone therapy in 2021!
Throughout my journey, I wanted to create awareness that young women can and do get breast cancer and it is so important to be in tune with your body and be a self-advocate. I didn’t have any family history and I was a healthy young adult. I had no risk factors and I still got breast cancer. I started sharing my journey through my blog (www.moniquerose8.com) and also social media. If I can help one woman check themselves and report anything to their doctor if it doesn't seem right, I know that I am helping many across the world. I'm also involved with many young advocate groups. Sharing my story has allowed me to find other young women across the world who just “get it.” They understand what it’s like to have hot flashes, talk about a family after cancer and the fear of recurrence.
Throughout treatment, so many people asked how I could still have a smile on my face while I was battling for my life. Trust me, there were days I didn’t smile and I would just cry. I still have those days and I deal with anxiety; something I’ve never had in my life. My strength and resilience is what makes me feel strong. I didn't recognize myself throughout treatment.
My hair is back to my pre-cancer length and I've gained weight throughout treatment. It's so hard to look in the mirror and not become discouraged that I don't have my pre-cancer body. Instead of getting upset, I focus on my strength and how I was able to overcome something that was so challenging. I appreciate that I can work out and eat healthy. Not being able to get off the couch from chemo and feeling so nauseous, brighter days seemed so far away. I continue to wear a smile on my face and appreciate my strength, while also looking forward to my beautiful future.