This entry was written by Rita Marie Pinto, who was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 25.
Breast cancer obviously came as a shock to me at 25 years old. Though I didn’t understand the how or why, I was ready. I went into survival mode and I couldn’t think of anything but my survival; I simply focused on the positive and did everything I could to assure that I would get the best possible prognosis and my life back to normal. I was ready for war… and thank God, I wasn’t alone.
I will never forget the day I was diagnosed. Completely distraught, I called my mom first. I remember crying, terrified, screaming, “Mom, I have CANCER!” She hung up the phone and hurried to pick me up from work. On the ride home, I called my closest girlfriends. Needless to say, they were completely shocked. I remember crying and explaining what I knew up to that point. I also remember hearing the devastation in their nervous voices while they fought back tears. Within a few hours, all of my closest friends and family were at my home. When I look back over the past year and a half, I know that I was scared. But I can’t imagine how it felt to be in the shoes of my closest friends… to have a friend who has cancer, to not know what comes next, to wonder if you’ll have that person next year at this time; that must be terrifying.
My girlfriends saw my diagnosis as a reality check and realized that no one is safe from this awful disease. I truly encourage all of my girlfriends, and young women in general, to be aware! Know your body, know your breasts. If your gut is telling you something is wrong, please act on it. My diagnosis proved that life is too short and tomorrow is not guaranteed. Breast cancer is real, but with the right armor, we can fight it.
Though their initial reaction was scared and nervous, my friends went with me into survival mode and turned all of the negativity into positivity. My friends will never know just how much all of the “little things” they have done for me have impacted my life, and nourished my recovery. It absolutely amazed me at how much they went out of their way to be there for me when I needed them. These ladies took turns keeping me company after my double mastectomy, came to chemo with me, showered me with presents to lift my spirits, simply listened to me rant on my good and bad days, and spent many a Friday night on my living room floor just chatting and hanging out so that I wouldn’t feel out of the loop.
Though I did have to undergo 6 rounds of chemotherapy and 5 total surgeries, I was very lucky and blessed. My cancer was completely treatable, and here I am, a year and a half later, happy and healthy. My girlfriends were nothing short of incredible and I would not have gotten through my cancer journey without them. I have been waiting for the right opportunity to express my gratitude to them, and I knew that eventually it would present itself: Ladies, I could never thank you enough for what you’ve done for me. You will never know how much each of you mean to me, and I am truly blessed to be surrounded by you. I love you, and simply put, thank you. As the saying goes, and ever so appropriately…
Friends are like bras – close to your heart, and there for support!
Were you diagnosed with breast cancer before the age of 45? You may be interested in attended the Conference for Young Women Affected by Breast Cancer (C4YW). Learn more about the conference by visiting www.c4yw.org.