This is Amanda.
Amanda was one of my students back in 2012. In November 2014, she found a lump the size of a marble in her right breast. Doctors told her she was too young. Only 21. Just a fibrocystic breast change, they said. Here, take some pain pills, there is nothing to be afraid of.
On June 5, 2015, at 22 years of age, Amanda found out she had Stage 2 Grade 3 breast cancer. Invasive ductal carcinoma ER and PR positive HER2 negative. On September 9, 2015, she underwent a double mastectomy, no reconstruction.
The images in this post were taken a month after her surgery. On May 5, 2016, Amanda completed her last chemotherapy session. She continues treatment with a monthly shot that will span the next five years.
This is Amanda’s voice:
“Your test results came in. It’s breast cancer.”
I hung up the phone and broke down. My son was right there and tears started to fall.
When you get diagnosed with cancer, you automatically think DEATH. What about Jayden? What about my family?
You hear stories of people who are diagnosed…then die.
I didn’t want that to be me.
How do you move forward when your breasts get taken away? When all your hair falls out from treatments? How can you be happy when you’re sick 24/7? When you can no longer wear lace bras or lingerie or cute tops because there’s nothing but two scars and no breasts?
How can you feel sexy or pretty when you don’t look like you?
Wearing big sweatshirts and t-shirts because bras are twice as annoying.
Swelling from doing too much.
People staring because your scars go to your armpits.
Having the most simple things like a cold be an emergency room visit.
The Red Devil. Taxol. Fevers, colds, nausea. No eating. No energy.
80 lbs. Maybe less.
I miss who I used to be.
I miss feeling attractive and being able to dress up and do my hair.
The first time I had the chance to see my scars. I looked away. I wasn’t ready. I remember pulling my dressing off and crying. Two lines and flat. No nipple. No tissue. Nothing but tubes showing through my skin. I hated my own body.
I support breast cancer awareness, pink this and that, but it’s annoying because they don’t show the true damage.
This photo is my favorite. It captured my emotions toward my cancer. The pain, the embarrassment. Wanting to cry. In this moment, I was lost in thought. This is me. This is my body. This is what breast cancer does to you.
Breast cancer isn’t pretty and pink like it seems.
I’m far from the person I used to be.
I personally don’t like the word survivor.
No one really survives cancer.
It will always be a part of me.
Moving on is hard, knowing I can’t do certain things anymore . It has changed me a lot. I’ve learned life is too short, so enjoy the little things.
After I was diagnosed, I regretted not doing the things I wanted. I told myself that if I finish this fight, after chemo, I’ll achieve my goals.
One week after my last chemo, I jumped into college. That way, if it comes back, I can be proud of what I’ve accomplished. If it comes back worse than before, I can expect the worst knowing I’ve left something that my son and family can remember me by.
Being only 23 and having to think “what if” is hard, but I’m not in the clear, even with all this medication.
Cancer motivated me to work with other cancer patients going into this fight. Not knowing the outcome, only having fear and hope.
Cancer affects me every day, but I am thankful to be here. I look forward to being a nurse and working with cancer patients. I look forward to building my family and fighting until there’s nothing left in me.