Name: Devorah Salsberg
Occupation: High School Teacher
Age when diagnosed with breast cancer: 44
Breast cancer type: Hormone Negative, Invasive Ductal Carcinoma
Breast cancer stage: Stage 2, Grade 3
Treatment: Double Mastectomy with Tissue Expanders, 4 rounds of AC Chemotherapy
Tell us a fun fact about yourself that has nothing to do with cancer:
I sell Rodan and Fields Skin Care.
What’s your go-to pick-me-up song?
Too many to chose from, but good 80’s dance music ALWAYS picks me up!!
How did you discover your breast cancer?
I did a genetic test out of the blue October 2017, after my Father In Law told me about a study at Women’s College. My grandmother was a BRCA 1 carrier and breast cancer survivor. I figured with my family history, why not. At the end of November, I got the positive results and began to set up appointments to be screened. I met with the Breast Specialist at Women’s College in February 2018, and had a mammogram and MRI on March 26th. When I got the results phone call, I was told that it is normal for a first MRI to show something, as there is nothing to compare it to, and that the mammogram was clear. However, I needed a biopsy. So, a week later, I went for an ultrasound biopsy. The following week, we were told that the biopsy was clear, but that my doctor had a gut feeling and wanted to be 100% sure that everything was clear. She sent me for an MRI biopsy, just to rule everything out. I went to the next follow-up appointment without my husband, Kerry, because we figured I was clear! I knew it was something when the doctor asked me where Kerry was and how she wished he was there.
What went through your head when you received your diagnosis?
What’s the craziest thing someone said to you after being diagnosed with breast cancer?
Wasn’t being on sick leave FABULOUS? And how LUCKY I was to have the Plastic Surgeonthat did my surgery, “all my friends have been waiting to see him!”
Who or what has been your biggest source of support throughout your experience with cancer?
My husband Kerry, my kids, our parents and our friends held me up. Plus, our community at large were so incredible. We had a meal train that would fill up in minutes, and people were dropping off groceries, making lunches for my kids and checking on us regularly.
What is the most difficult part of being a young woman with breast cancer?
I was terrified about the mastectomy. I thought it would be the end of my youth, but it was not as horrible as I had thought. The expanders are uncomfortable, and I feel like I have plastic boobs (I call them my Barbie Boobs). Then, I was terrified about having chemo. The effects were not as bad as I anticipated, but in other ways it was worse than I expected! The hair part has been hard, but it will grow back! The worst is that I have not been able to do the things that I love doing. I can’t go to the gym, I can’t have a glass of wine, I can’t stay up past 9pm without a nap. I just don’t feel like myself.
What’s something unexpected you learned about yourself as a result of having breast cancer?
I started to blog and I love it! Apparently, I am a good writer – who knew??
In one sentence, what words of wisdom would you pass on to another young woman who has just been diagnosed with breast cancer?
Knowledge is Power – do your research, self advocate and find doctors you can trust!