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By Ursula Garcia
Texas Cancer Survivor
I was a young, healthy 27-year-old, who had just recently moved to Grapevine, Texas, with my fiancé.
Around that time I noticed a lot of bloody nipple discharge from my left side. Being young and healthy and with no family history, I kept going on with life as if nothing could be wrong.
The following month it was time for my annual exam. I mentioned it to my doctor. A swab of the discharge was done. But nothing abnormal came back. So again I went on as if there was nothing to be concerned about.
About a month later the symptoms became worse. I was bleeding a lot easier and the amount seemed to be getting worse.
My fiancé noticed and said something didn’t seem right and I should probably see a doctor. I immediately called my doctor back home asking what should I do? I was told I should probably try to get worked in with a doctor closer to home.
I met with an Obgyn who ordered a mammogram for me.
But guess what? Because of my age, a mammogram was not indicated, because I didn’t have a family history of breast cancer. I had an ultrasound done, which led to the radiologist asking for a mammogram.
After having the mammogram done, I could tell something wasn’t right. I knew a baseline was needed, but they were a lot more focused on my left side where the discharge was. The radiologist came in to speak with me. He said he recommended a biopsy and that I should start consulting with a surgeon.
Fast Forward to the Biopsy
You know that gut feeling people talk about? Two days after the biopsy I get the dreaded phone call: “You have breast cancer.”
I nearly fell to the ground. I couldn’t t breathe. I did not want to lose my hair.
My surgical oncologist said we would be moving pretty quickly from here. Next were the staging scans. I did have cancer in my left breast and 19 positive lymph nodes. I was started on chemotherapy right away—4 Red Devils and 12 weekly taxol—followed by a double mastectomy, radiation, and a DIEP Flap procedure.
What Has Cancer Taught Me?
Well it took me a long time after treatment to figure that out.
After treatment I found a wonderful job with two surgical oncologists. I am able to help take care of patients who are in the same boat I was in. I laugh, cry, and celebrate with them. This has given me so much more reason to stay positive and keep on fighting to survive.
I try to teach others that as survivors we have so much to live for.
We need to live life to the fullest. Not be so hard on our selves. Meeting so many survivors like me has taught me to take it one day at a time, do not live in fear, and teach others what our own battles have taught us.
Being diagnosed at only 27, I would keep asking myself why me, what did I do wrong to deserve this?
Looking back at my journey, I have accepted there was a reason—to help others and teach others what cancer cannot do.
Editor’s Note: This is part of a series of guest blog posts from Breast Friends Forever (BFF) in San Antonio, Texas (64% Latino). BFF is a support group that enables young breast cancer survivors to share stories and experiences, developed by the Institute for Health Promotion Research at UT Health San Antonio (the team behind Salud America!) and Susan G. Komen San Antonio. Email BFF or Visit BFF on Facebook. The main image above features Ursula Garcia.