Surviving Breast Cancer

I was 26 with stage IV breast cancer—I was going to survive.

If you have ever had a crisis, we have something in common. I never could have guessed what was about to unfold as I went in for a checkup.

It started as a lighthearted, routine visit to see my doctor. I told her that I was there for my yearly checkup, but that I also had this nagging pain in my sternum that seemed to come and go.

Heather in the hospital

At the conclusion of my checkup, I found out I had a mass in my breast. By the end of the next day, after a round of tests and a biopsy I found out it was cancer. By the end of the week I found out I had stage IV breast cancer.

…My story starts off pretty tragically and scary, but the outcome is good. Over then next 10 months I was surviving breast cancer with a tremendous support system: friends, family, an amazing medical team.

My doctor, Sofia Merajver was one of the many angels I encountered during my battle. She was positive, calm and assertive. Together, Dr. Merajver and I planned out how we would “kill cancer.” Killing cancer would become my main objective and my mantra over the next 10 months.

I emerged from the initial devastation of my diagnosis with a different outlook. If cancer does one thing, it insures that your life will never be the same.

Ten months after my diagnosis of breast cancer, I completed my last treatment. Since then I have had many reports that my cancer is stable

Killing cancer sign

I created this sign during my fight. It traveled with me so I could hold on to that inspiration.

It will always be challenging for me to deal with the reality that I am here in spite of dismal odds. My cancer was advanced to the point of being terminal. To have the opportunity to continue to parent my child and be a wife is a miracle—plain and simple. I do not know why. I hesitate to claim that God chose me. Sometimes I wonder if it were not for the many people praying for me, if I would even be here. I do strongly feel that my conviction to move quickly and make changes hedged the bets in my favor.

The thought of having cancer will always remain. The reminders are everywhere. I’ve found that it is necessary to continue to be vigilant about the way that I take care of my body. Every day I am killing cancer. It is not just a sometimes thing.

Although I hold myself responsible on a daily basis, were it not for a team of people helping me I don’t know where I would be today. Though I can and do make a difference each day, my greatest asset is the people who have helped me succeed.

Baby SydneyMy whole story of surviving breast cancer

What started out as a collection of letters to my baby girl grew into a book: Every Day We Are Killing Cancer. My book details my journey of surviving breast cancer. It also focuses on how friends and family pulled together to support and help me through. If this story speaks to you and you would like to know more, please take a look at my memoir, Every Day We Are Killing Cancer.

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