By Jessica Clements
I am 33-year-old woman from Alberta, Canada. I used to work in the oilfield until I had my son in September 2021. I used to be very independent, and an active dog mom to four dogs. I am now a proud mom of five dogs and one tiny human! I found a lump at two months postpartum but thought it was a blocked milk duct. It kept getting bigger, so I went in on February 28, 2022. I was sent to get an ultrasound and a mammogram on March 1st and 2nd. I was biopsied on March 4th, and my pathology report came back on March 21st. I was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma.
Becoming a new mom was a lot of change, adding breast cancer on top of that when your baby is only five months old is tragic. Your mind is always thinking is this the last birthday I’ll celebrate? Is this the last time I’ll see him eat breakfast in the morning? I do have support and people to help me with my son, but I mostly take care of him by myself. I do think my son came at the right time as life knew I needed a purpose in order to fight the battle I never knew was coming.
I started with six rounds of doxetacel in May 2022 to shrink the tumor as it was 7cm. Surgery on October 7th and 31st for a left breast mastectomy and immediate reconstruction with nipple sparing. I still went for hormone therapy with herceptin every three weeks. I had 16 days of radiation in December 2022. Currently I’m doing kadcyla every three weeks due to residual cancer. Losing my hair was the hardest thing for me. The way people look at you when you have no hair makes you very uncomfortable.
Physically, I can’t keep up with my toddler like I would like to. I went from an active lifestyle to choosing when I can do an activity. Financially it has been the hardest. Making sure you have gas to go to your appointments, and food for your family. Money for meds so you can make sure the side effects are easier on you. My relationships with others are extremely strained, lots has changed. I have lost a few people and have gained some really great people as well. Work wise- I will not be able to return to my normal job which is very hard to accept. My outlook on life has changed because I look at every moment like it may be my last.
My partner and I went through a lot of ups and downs. We just recently got back together as I made rash decisions while dealing with postpartum depression and my cancer diagnosis. Family members look at me differently now but are supportive. Friends that know me are very supportive and the true ones have shined through this dark time. Mostly everyone that found out I had cancer was in disbelief. Not something you would think a new mom would have to go through.
I have a cancer mentor that has helped me. I also have my sister, dad, papa, aunts, cousins, and some very close friends that have been there since the beginning that check on me and motivate me to keep going. My biggest motivation is my son. Take every picture you possibly can because in those dark moments when you think you can’t keep going, that will help you to come back and realize what’s worth fighting for. Remember, there is a huge community of pink sisters waiting to cheer you on. Reach out to us. Advocate for yourself and realize there are more options.