I had found the lump by myself. There were no other symptoms. All of the doctors I had seen before making an appointment at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute told me, “Girls your age don’t get cancer.”
I was diagnosed with stage 2 triple negative invasive ductal carcinoma (breast cancer) at the age of twenty-three. I knew my diagnosis would have a large impact on my relationship with my boyfriend, Tyler. At the time, we had been discussing our future. We had planned to be engaged by our 5-year dating anniversary. When I was diagnosed, he asked me if I still wanted to stick to the same timeline. I thought to myself, “cancer is already taking so much away from me, I won’t let it take this, too.”
While undergoing cancer treatment, there were times that my illness put a strain on our relationship. It was hard for him to understand exactly how I felt or what I was going through on a daily basis. There were certain things that Tyler did not understand. Often times, I would forget that he was also going through this with me. I can’t imagine how it must have felt for him to see me laying in the hospital bed when I was unable to move or speak.
It also became hard for me to communicate what I was going through during my treatment. For me, planning a wedding served as a complete distraction from the reality of my cancer diagnosis.
Despite the frustrations that cancer inflicted on our relationship, we were able to grow and learn from one another. We had been together for five years before I was diagnosed with cancer. Since my diagnosis 8 months ago, we’ve experienced more challenges in our relationship than I can remember having during the past five years. I know that if we can survive cancer, we can survive anything.
Today, I am so thankful for Dana-Farber and for myself, for making it through. This September, I married the love of my life after 6 years of dating. I cannot wait to begin a new chapter for myself, and with Tyler. Without him, I’m not sure I could have made it through this.