• ForTheCultureFDN

Survivor Story

It was 11/15/18 when I decided to go public with my diagnosis.  I always felt pain in my breasts when it was time for my monthly menstrual that was normal for me.  Then the pain would go away.   However, in the month of September of 2018 I had the pain but it felt different.  It felt like my breasts were on fire that month and the pain lasted longer than normal.  Not old enough for a mammogram I made an appointment with my OBGYN as it was almost time for my yearly anyway.  They didn't have an appointment right away so I had to wait until the end of October.  I had to see the nurse practitioner because my doctor was all booked up. That was fine.  She did the usual breast exam and didn't feel anything out of the ordinary. She also asked me if I had any other symptoms. The only other symptom I was experiencing was hot flashes.  She thought I might have been premenopausal and told me to rub some "rose oil" on my breasts. I thought she was nuts and told her that I wanted a mammogram. She insisted that I was too young and that my tissue was too dense and they wouldn't see anything. I proceeded to tell her that if she didn't give me a prescription to have themammogram,I would go somewhere else.  She gave me the prescription. Along with a prescription for an ultrasound because I was also experiencing pain in my armpit. 


     I went for the imaging as soon as possible.  First a mammogram was done.The technician told me that they didn't see anything.  Then I went to another room for my ultrasound.  They said if you were looking at a clock about 3 o'clock they saw a dot. Maybe a cyst.... " nothing suspicious".  Then they did the ultrasound under my armpit and said that where I was feeling pain that my lymph nodes looked "klunky" was the technical term she used.  The technician sent in the radiologist Dr after they reviewed my images.  She told me it was nothing to worry about and that it was pretty standard to do a biopsy when they saw anything on an image to be safe. 


     I left there and made my next appointments.  They didn't have anything until the following week. I had to have a biopsy of my breast and my lymph nodes.  


When I went to that appointment the NP explained the procedure.  She then asked me what I was feeling. I told her pain under my armpit as though it was burning. She told me not to worry and that it was nothing because "cancer is painless".  I was set up for the biopsy's prepped numbed and scared shitless. They tookabiopsyof both spots and put clips in place of what they biopsied to be able to see where they already tested. They wrapped me up, put some ice packs on me and told me I would know before 5pm the next day. The radiologist who took the samples also told me not to worry as in her experience it looked like nothing.


     November 7th, at about 3pm they called me to tell me that I had Cancer in my breast and in my lymph node.  After falling to my knees,I barely heard her tell me that I needed to contact an Oncologist.  I hung up on her and told my husband to come in the room. I told him what she said and he was asking a lot of questions.  I told him to call her back because I was devastated.  While he was on my cellphone with her,I immediately called Memorial Sloan Kettering because I knew I was not going for treatment in Rockland County. 


     On my birthday 11/15/2018 I met with an oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering. They told me that my cancer was aggressive that I was triple positive and that I needed to start chemo right away. As well as meet with a breast surgeon and possibly radiation.  At the time I had asixteenyear olddaughter, aoneyear old son and an amazing Husband.  All I wanted to do was whatever it would take to stay alive. Because that's all you think about when you get a cancer diagnosis. The first thing that comes to mind is I'm going to die. 


     I ended up having chemo first all together a year of it. Halfway through chemo I chose to have a double mastectomy.  The doctors insisted that it would not better my odds only having double mastectomy rather than a lumpectomy. However, I knew that I didn't want to go through mammograms for the rest of my life.  During my surgery they found that although the chemo was working the cancer was still in my lymph nodes.They took out 19 lymph nodes to be safe.  I had them place expanders in my chest to keep the space open for my reconstruction surgery.  They also had told me that I'd have to do 25 rounds of radiation and thatiwouldn't be able to do reconstruction until 6months after radiation therapy. Covidhappened at that pushed back my reconstruction surgery. Then I developed two blood clots in my arm and that postponed my surgery. 


     Here we are today 10/4/2020 and I am finally scheduled to have my reconstruction surgery along with a hysterectomy 10/15/2020 almost three years later.  It feels almost too good to be true.  My advice for anyone man, woman, teen.  You know your body.  Listen to your body and take care of it. Ifididn't listen to my body I wouldn't be here today to tell this story. My cancer was aggressive and unpredictable. I had no family history.  Cancer doesn't discriminate and it is not forgiving.  I have learned that you have no control over cancer.  Please check yourself. Stay on top of your health. You are your best advocate.  I saved my life.💖~  AlexandraManning


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