Today’s guest blogger is a brave young woman who was introduced to me through a friend on Facebook, Nettie Faubert. Her story is one of amazing strength and courage because not only is Nettie a young woman, she was a young pregnant woman when she was diagnosed and went through treatment. Thank you Nettie for sharing your beautiful and brave story. You batted a home run in the game of life and survival.
Throughout the course of my life I have seen many accounts of of breast cancer. I have seen the affects it has on not only the person suffering from it, but also the loved-ones surrounding them.
It all started in 1985 when my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. At that time I was only ten years old. I didn’t really understand much then, I didn’t know how it truly affected someone because my mom lived her life happily every day. I went to countless doctor appointments, chemotherapy at the University of Minnesota, and I was always by her bedside while she was recovering from her surgeries. My mother was one of those women who had many side effects during her treatments, they left her very weak and ill. She was very brave and strong during her short, four year battle. I remember after she passed saying, “When I grow up, if I ever get breast cancer, I’m just going to let it kill me”. After seeing my mom and her battle and how hard it was on her and her family, it just didn’t seem fair. I am glad many years later I changed my mind.
In February of 2009 I found out that I was pregnant and due at the end of October. At that time I didn’t have any health insurance. I went to scheduled check-ups and had a breast exam. Mom and baby were healthy and progressing normally, everything seemed like it was going great.
Two weeks after my breast exam at the doctors office I discovered a lump on my left breast. Since my hormones were crazy I didn’t think much of it, so I left it for a week to monitor it. At the end of the week I started to panic and worry about the lump. I talked to my family and talked to a close friend and they referred me to a program to get a free mammogram, and that’s when my life seemed to take a downward spiral.
I was sixteen weeks pregnant and diagnosed with Invasive (infiltrating) ductal carcinoma (IDC) breast cancer and at that time I was still uninsured. Within a month of my diagnosis I was set to have a mastectomy, see an oncologist, get genetic testing done, and I was able to get insurance through the state.
After a month of healing from my mastectomy and lymph node removal, I was set for chemo. I needed to do four out of eight rounds of chemo while being pregnant. Even though I was scared and concerned about what would happen to my baby and myself during all of this, I walked around with a positive attitude and remained optimistic. I had family and friends to remind me daily that this is a word, not a sentence. I, myself, had high hopes. I had dreams. I knew I was going to get through this. I am strong! This is just a word, a bad sickness that sometimes could kill people. I knew that some of my family and friends were having a harder time with this than others. Each person handles “NEWS” like this differently. We all needed to face that and I knew it was going to be hard, but I moved on. I knew I was not one of the people it would kill. I would survive this. This is my life, and I knew I wouldn’t let cancer take it.
My son, the miracle that he is, was born two months premature, but very healthy. That put me at ease. I could carry on with the rest of my treatments knowing that even though he had to stay in the hospital, he was healthy and I was going to live. I took many trips to the hospital, even numerous times a day, to see him. Not even my treatments would hold me back. I was a mom on a mission.
My treatments went to every two weeks which made it hard on all of us. With the help of my family and my children I was at peace. My kids had to spend a lot of time helping me recover and a lot of time alone while I was visiting their brother or resting. I was very comforted knowing my treatments were going well and soon I’d be onto the 6 weeks of my radiation, the home stretch. The light at the end of my tunnel got brighter and brighter.
Because my genetic testing results showed I am a BRCA 2 mutation holder, I opted to have a full hysterectomy done in February 2010. Even though I am a cancer gene mutation holder, I am cancer free as of March of 2010. The previous year I felt I had no control over my life. This year is a new year and I am in control. I go to check-ups every three months just to be told the wonderful news that I am going to live.
To my family and friends I was like an inspiration. No matter the struggles or the bad news I just kept going. I feel honored knowing that so many people look to me for strength and I can inspire them. I am an advocate for self breast exams. I know first hand that things can change in an instant.
For the last 3 years my oldest daughter Summer has walked the Susan G. Komen for the cure on Mother’s Day in memory of her Grandma Rose, and in celebration of life for her step grandma Sue who also is a breast cancer survivor. Last year was the first year that my whole family attended the walk, with many more to come. I have and will always continue to share my story, and support breast cancer awareness. It takes only a minute, to save your life.
Thank you, Nettie, your story is so inspiring and you showed tremendous courage in the face of a disease that has no age limits.