This entry was written by Jackie Roth, PhD student at Thomas Jefferson University. Every other Friday, starting in January throughout the entire year of 2011, Jackie will share a blog entry about her breast cancer experience. This year-long blog series is in honor of LBBC’s 20th anniversary.
Allow Jackie to introduce herself:
There is so much going on in my life right now. I am 28 years old, a newlywed and I am pursuing my PhD in Genetics at Thomas Jefferson University. Interestingly, the focus of my research is breast cancer. My life took a huge turn in the summer of 2010 when I, the researcher, became the patient.
In March of 2010, I felt a lump in my breast and I went to my doctor to get it checked out. She said that it was a cyst and that because I am so young, there really wasn’t anything to worry about. Reassured that it was nothing, I went on with my life normally for the next three months. But the lump got bigger and I became persistent, getting a mammogram, ultrasound and biopsy on June 29, 2010. I could just read the radiologist’s face during my biopsy and I knew what was coming…
Yup…cancer. Stage III, ER/PR+, HER2-, Grade 3, Node Positive, no BRCA mutations. The overall plan is chemotherapy, followed by surgery, then radiation. I have had numerous obstacles and changes in my plan along the way: a very low white blood cell (WBC) count that won’t rise on its own (this lead to an 8-week delay in treatment), a change in treatment numbers from 16 down to 8 and my oncologist went on maternity leave. Not to mention, I may have a parasite infection in my gut, which I learned of during my honeymoon.
But there is light at the end of the tunnel. Joining organizations like LBBC have helped me get through this whirlwind! I met so many great people, especially at LBBC’s fall conference this past November. I think of the conference everyday because I’m still wearing my Wish Bracelet that we tied on each other’s writs at the end of the conference. My part of the bracelet says “Be Fierce, Be Fit, Be Kind, Be Happy, Be You” and I’ve tried to apply these words to my life:
Be Fierce: After having long ringlet curls all my life, I would say that walking around with a buzzed pixie haircut is pretty fierce! My hair grew back in during my delay in treatments, but it’s on its way out again just in time for the cold.
Be Fit: Does using my Wii count?
Be Kind: I can’t even begin to count the ways that people have been so kind to me throughout this time in my life. It brings me to tears thinking about what everyone has done.
Be Happy: This holiday season I really have so much to be happy about: a wonderful new husband, supportive family and friends, and a great opportunity to really help the breast cancer community with the research that I do.
Be You: This experience is going to be so different for everyone. I think we will all end up learning about ourselves along the way. Being diagnosed with breast cancer has made me slow down, and stop to enjoy my life. My resolution for the New Year is to continue to stay slow and make plenty of ME time. I never really thought that I would be fighting this cancer in two ways at once, but here I am. I’m happy to share my journey with you…
How are you applying these words to your everyday life? Tell Jackie how you plan to “be kind, be fit, be fierce, be you and be happy” in 2011 and beyond! Comment here or on our facebook page.