Lump to Laughter

Home Meet Grace & Friends

Natalie – 33 Years Old

Your Story
My name is Natalie and this is my story: I am 33 years old with a wonderful husband of almost 12 years and two beautiful little girls–6 and 2. I found a lump while performing a self breast exam in March. I almost ignored it, but the next day the lump was swollen and painful. The next day it was worse. I called my OB/GYN and made an appointment for the next week. She examined me and decided to send me for a mammogram and ultrasound just to be sure it was nothing. She also sent me to a surgeon. Throughout all of this, I was sure it was just a cyst, but it hurt and I wanted it removed or drained. The mammogram and ultrasound both showed "most likely benign" results. My surgeon looked at the images and also thought that it was most likely a benign fibroadenoma. She examined me and then decided to do a biopsy just to be sure. I was positive that it was just a cyst, so when I went back to her for the results I went alone--big mistake. On May 13, 2008 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. . .Invasive Ductal Carcinoma, 1.6cm, Estrogen/Progesterone receptor negative with a 95% growth rate. My surgeon described it as a mean, angry, aggressive tumor. The drive home was the longest 30 minutes of my life. Then I had to tell my husband. We cried together. He had to call my mother; I couldn't get the words out again. Together, my husband and I decided that a double mastectomy with reconstruction was my best option. At my age, the chances of recurrence are very high. I decided that if I was going to have to go through surgery and chemo now, I didn't want to have to do it again and this was my best chance to prevent that. The surgery was scheduled for April 4th--my birthday. I know that sounds like an awful date to agree on for the surgery, but God had provided an opening for me when both my surgeon and one of the best plastic surgeons in the country had a cancellation just hours before. The OR was already booked and both surgeons already had that time set aside in their schedules. Otherwise, I may have had to wait months, and we didn't have months with this aggressive cancer inside of me. So on my 33rd birthday, my surgeon removed both of my breasts and the plastic surgeon began the reconstruction process. I had a tissue sparing mastectomy with expanders placed immediately. The results of the surgery couldn't have been better. The tumor had grown--it was now 2.2cm just 3 weeks after diagnosis--but the sentinal node and 4 other nodes were negative, the margins were clear, and the other breast was clear. There was no evidence that the cancer had gotten past the initial tumor!! Praise God! Right now, I'm about to start the next part of the journey. I start chemo tomorrow and I'm ready. I want to share that I have felt God with me every step of the way. First of all, praise God for pain--I had always heard that cancer tumors didn't hurt. I am so thankful that mine did, otherwise I probably would have ignored the lump thinking it was just a little cyst. I thank God every day that mine hurt! I thank him too that I was prompted to do a self exam when I did. I was not very good about doing that regularly, but for some reason that day I did it. Sometimes I didn't see God's answers to my prayers until I looked back. The night before my diagnosis, I was feeling very lonely. I was at church and that particular night, no one had spoken to me all night. I didn't understand. I remember thinking "God, I feel so lonely. Why am I here at a place where no one talks to me or cares how I am doing?" I cried that night over my loneliness. Over the next few weeks, though, God showed me how much my church family loves me. We have been overwhelmed with encouraging words and prayers, meals, cards, phone calls and love. God could not have answered my prayer in a more profound way. I shared earlier that the drive home after my diagnosis was very difficult. After learning the news, I was feeling really sorry for myself and thinking about how difficult the next year was going to be, then God reminded me "This is nothing compared to what Christ went through for you, because he loves you." That was a defining moment for me. Realizing that has made this journey a lot easier for me. God has also shown me what an amazing husband I have. He has been so strong, supportive, and protective. God has used this to bring us closer together and has shown me how blessed I am to have him in my life. Finally, I want to share that after a few days of crying over the diagnosis, I finally said "God, this is yours now. I can't do this. I can't cry over this everyday. I can't deal with surgery and chemo and sickness. I can't do it, so I'm turning it over to you. It's yours." I have had a peace in my heart ever since that moment. Yes, I've had to deal with the pain of surgery and some sickness so far, but it's just my body. My soul is at peace and that brings such a joy to my life that I can get past the physical part. I realize that I still have a long way to go. By most people's definition, I'm probably not considered a survivor yet, but I will be. God has placed a peace in my heart and I know that He is fighting the battle for me and He's already won.
Age at Diagnosis
---
Year Initially Diagnosed
---
How Cancer was Found
---
Stage at Diagnosis
---
Type of Breast Cancer
---
Surgery
---
Lymph Node Involvement
---
Lymph Node Dissection Type
---
Radiation Therapy
---
Chemotherapy
---
Hormone Therapy
---
Oopherectomy
---
Current Disease Status
---
Clinical Trial Participation
---
Treatment-Induced Menopause
---
Breast Reconstruction
---
Lymphodema
---
Physical Therapy
---
Her2 Status
---
Hormone Status
---
Genetic Counseling
---
BRCA1/2
---