My cancer story is not unlike other women diagnosed with breast cancer. I have learned that there are many things we all have in common. One thing is for certain we all joined this PinkSister family in disbelief. Whether it’s physical symptoms or emotional stress, it’s a hard road! I want to give you a raw insight into my breast cancer journey. Not with the intention of scaring anyone, but rather to educate both men and women on the importance of self exams and routine medical screenings. I’m Adrienne, a 43 year old mother of 3, a wife, a registered nurse, and breast cancer patient from Kentucky. I recently relocated to Savannah, Georgia in the midst of my diagnoses. This is a story that I never thought would be mine to tell! I went for my yearly mammogram in March and while working one day I received a call from my radiologist. She recommended a spot compression mammogram due to a mass in my left breast that was concerning. I scheduled the appointment for the repeat mammogram for April and went about my work-day not giving the call any real thought. I ended up having my spot compression mammogram, an ultrasound, and a biopsy all in the same visit the beginning of April. Due to Covid I spent 4 hours alone having all these tests done. The anxiety over the next 2 weeks while waiting for results was unlike any anxiousness I’ve ever had. Finally my biopsy results came on April 16th with the diagnosis of triple negative invasive ductal carcinoma. As a nurse I knew what that meant. But in that moment, it was like time stopped! I listened to the words the doctor was saying but it felt as though she was talking about one of my patients, not me! I HAVE CANCER my inner voice just kept repeating! The next 12 days seemed like I was on auto pilot. I had appointments with the medical oncologist, the genetic counselor, the general surgeon and had my Port-a-Cath implanted. My family then packed up, moved, and closed on our house in Savannah on April 30th. It was bittersweet though. It was hard to be overly excited knowing what the immediate future held for me. I had my first oncologist appointment at The Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida on May 5th. On June 15th I had a left breast partial mastectomy and biopsies of my sentinel lymph lodes which came back positive with cancer cells. At this point I was diagnosed Stage 2B and had a PET scan to make sure the cancer had not metastasized anywhere else and thankfully, it had not! Once I healed from surgery it was onto the 1st round of chemotherapy. Since my cancer is triple negative, meaning it the cancer is not hormone driven I had to be on an aggressive chemotherapy regimen. I have to have 2 different rounds of chemotherapy totally 16 treatments over a 5 month span. After chemo then I’ll have 25 treatments in 5 weeks of radiation. I am currently on the 2nd round and just completed treatment 5 of 12. Chemotherapy has been really hard not only physically but mentally and emotionally. My hair started coming out in clumps slowly while washing it, but soon all it took was tucking my hair behind my ears for larger clumps to fall. With the help of my husband and my son and a couple of mimosas, my husband shaved my hair for me. I cried tears that I had held in for what seemed like forever. It was both heartbreaking and liberating at the same time. It made me feel like I had some sort of control over the situation and my body even if only for the moment! Chemotherapy has taken over my body from head to toe. It has reeked havoc on my digestive system, it has changed the pigmentation of my skin, has made my fingernails brittle and has thrown me into menopause. My muscles and bones hurt and my body in general feels weak in a way that’s so hard to describe. Going through all this cancer treatment has also affected me mentally and emotionally. Having cancer and dealing with all the side effects has made me feel isolated, anxious, mad and depressed. But it has also made me appreciate the small things and all the special people in my life even more than I did before! I have had to put some of my dreams and plans on hold while I focus on healing and staying alive. I have not lost sight in them and I know I will get through this even stronger than before. I wanted to share my story but more importantly I want to share the raw truth about it all! I am a woman who did her self exams and started getting routine mammograms starting at the recommended age of 40. I did not find this tumor myself and I did not have any noticeable external changes to my breasts. My cancer was only found from a routine mammogram and thankfully my cancer was caught early enough! If you take away anything from my story please make sure it’s this, don’t put off your screenings it could save you life! Help prevent yourself from being the 1 in 8 women diagnosed with breast cancer like ME!
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