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My Story: Cancer does not define the survivor

By LORAINNE LE STEPHENS

Cancer Survivor and Contributing Writer

My girls and me, Easter 2016
My girls and me, Easter 2016

In 2011 at just 34 years old, I was told I had breast cancer. I felt a lump while I was breastfeeding and my ob/gyn told me that I had “lumpy” breast due to breastfeeding. I was not comfortable with this statement, so I went ahead and sought the advice of another ob/gyn. This time I was sent for diagnostic testing. Even then, the radiologist said “Young women have dense breasts so it’s probably nothing.” I did not feel comfortable with that diagnosis. I took the radiologist’s hand and laid it on the lump that I was feeling and told her, “This is the lump I have been feeling for six months.” After two biopsies, doctors confirmed that I had ductal carcinoma in-situ.

After hearing those words, I immediately started to cry. Through many consultations, advice and surgeries, the support of my husband, family and friends kept me going during this difficult time; it was an emotional roller coaster. My strength to fight through this journey is for my three daughters.

PERSONAL ADVICE

Although breast cancer isn’t common in young women and harder to detect in young women, I advise anyone who thinks something is odd about their breast to get it checked out. Be persistent!

Your journey is not over when you’re in remission. You continue to battle not only for yourself but for those who are currently fighting too. Strength comes from the bond you have with other survivors.

HERE ARE SOME OTHER LESSONS I LEARNED

• Stay positive. Cancer is too big to handle by yourself. Keep the faith.

• Focus on what’s important. I am living my life with a purpose. I am a wife, a mother, a daughter and a friend. Cancer did not define my life. I am an oncology nurse who helps others battle through their cancer.

• Believe in the power of prayer. I prayed and prayed. When people asked if they could pray for me, I said “Yes, please do.” I prayed for those who were fighting cancer as I was, too. Praying to me is a way of talking, crying, rejoicing. It allows you to forgive!

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