How I found beauty during breast cancer treatment

My doctor didn’t notice anything unusual during my well-woman exam in February 2018. When I felt a lump in my breast two months later, I wasn’t overly concerned. I was only 38 years old. My husband said I should get checked again, but I didn’t think it would turn out to be breast cancer. When I went to see my gynecologist a couple months later, my husband insisted that she re-examine me. My doctor ordered an ultrasound, a biopsy and a mammogram. They showed I had breast cancer. The weeks after my diagnosis were a blur of appointments and tests. The worst part was the uncertainty. I felt weak and completely vulnerable. My breast cancer treatment at MD Anderson League City I've lived in Houston for 15 years. Even before coming to MD Anderson, I knew about its reputation as the best cancer hospital in the U.S. So, there was no question about where I’d go for breast cancer treatment. I met with Dr. Richard Ehlers at MD Anderson League City a few days after receiving my breast cancer diagnosis. From the beginning, Dr. Ehlers was encouraging and positive. He always took the time to fully explain the pros and cons of my options. He also listened to my concerns. I liked that I didn't have to deal with Houston traffic when I drove to MD Anderson League City. It was also easier to navigate and less crowded, and there’s free parking. In July 2018, I started chemotherapy. Because the breast cancer was hormone receptor-positive, I had 12 weekly rounds of Taxol and four rounds of Adriamycin and Cytoxan....

Li-Fraumeni syndrome led me to my life’s work

Genetic disorders can be really scary, but learning that I have one probably saved my life. It also led me to my current career. As a fundraiser for a children’s cancer hospital, my work supports research on Li-Fraumeni syndrome, a rare genetic condition that I actually have. Originally, I was planning to become a pediatric oncology nurse. But my own cancer diagnosis and Li-Fraumeni syndrome took me down a different path. I dropped out of nursing school two weeks before classes began, because I’d just started treatment for breast cancer. But being in a hospital as a cancer patient ultimately showed me that nursing was not for me. I’ve still made supporting people with cancer my life’s work — just in a different way than I originally envisioned. Early detection is critical with Li-Fraumeni syndrome I discovered that I have Li-Fraumeni syndrome after my fourth cancer diagnosis —thyroid cancer— in April 2010. At the time, I was only 26. Before that, I’d also been treated for adrenal cancer, breast cancer and melanoma. The first diagnosis happened when I was just a toddler. Since then, I’ve had radiation-induced sarcoma, too. But MD Anderson has kept me cancer-free since 2015. I realize that having five different types of cancer before age 35 sounds crazy. But that’s one of the hallmarks of Li-Fraumeni. This rare genetic mutation puts people at much higher risk of developing multiple cancers over their lifetimes — and those cancers can happen at any age. That’s why finding out I had Li-Fraumeni was so important: because when you’re much more likely to develop cancer, getting regular screenings and...

Li-Fraumeni syndrome led me to my life’s work

Genetic disorders can be really scary, but learning that I have one probably saved my life. It also led me to my current career. As a fundraiser for a children’s cancer hospital, my work supports research on Li-Fraumeni syndrome, a rare genetic condition that I actually have. Originally, I was planning to become a pediatric oncology nurse. But my own cancer diagnosis and Li-Fraumeni syndrome took me down a different path. I dropped out of nursing school two weeks before classes began, because I’d just started treatment for breast cancer. But being in a hospital as a cancer patient ultimately showed me that nursing was not for me. I’ve still made supporting people with cancer my life’s work — just in a different way than I originally envisioned. Early detection is critical with Li-Fraumeni syndrome I discovered that I have Li-Fraumeni syndrome after my fourth cancer diagnosis —thyroid cancer— in April 2010. At the time, I was only 26. Before that, I’d also been treated for adrenal cancer, breast cancer and melanoma. The first diagnosis happened when I was just a toddler. Since then, I’ve had radiation-induced sarcoma, too. But MD Anderson has kept me cancer-free since 2015. I realize that having five different types of cancer before age 35 sounds crazy. But that’s one of the hallmarks of Li-Fraumeni. This rare genetic mutation puts people at much higher risk of developing multiple cancers over their lifetimes — and those cancers can happen at any age. That’s why finding out I had Li-Fraumeni was so important: because when you’re much more likely to develop cancer, getting regular screenings and...

Setting new life goals after uterine cancer and a total hysterectomy

I’ve always wanted to be a mom. I became an aunt at a very young age, and I loved taking care of my nieces and nephews. I worked at a child welfare organization throughout high school, too, so kids have always been a part of my life. That’s why finding out I had stage II uterine cancer in August 2016 was a pretty bitter blow. By the time I was diagnosed at age 31, it had already spread to my cervix and both ovaries. My best chance at a cure was a total hysterectomy followed by radiation therapy. The surgery alone would send me into immediate menopause — and end my dreams of having biological children. Choosing to have the surgery anyway was not an easy decision, but it was one my husband and I agreed upon. I’m still making my peace with it. Some days, I am perfectly content. Others, not so much. The one thing I have no regrets about is going to MD Anderson for my uterine cancer treatment. It’s 600 miles away from my home, but three years later, I’m still here — and cancer-free — because of it. My uterine cancer diagnosis My husband and I had been trying to conceive naturally for quite a while by the time I was diagnosed. My regular gynecologist had been on my case for years to see a fertility specialist. I finally agreed in July 2016. The specialist performed a pelvic sonogram as a routine part of our first consultation. The scan revealed multiple ovarian cysts and several uterine fibroids. Since I have a history of ovarian...