Name: Kristal John
Occupation: High School Science and Special Education Teacher for the Toronto District School Board
Age when diagnosed with breast cancer: 37
Breast cancer type: Triple Negative Breast Cancer with BRCA-1 genetic marker
Breast cancer stage: Stage 3
Treatment: Double mastectomy with immediate implants, Chemotherapy (FEC-D) for 6 rounds, Oophorectomy
Tell us a fun fact about yourself
I love boxing!
What’s your go-to pick-me-up song?
Feelin’ So Good By J. Lo.
How did you discover your breast cancer?
After working out I felt a lump on my right breast. I showed my husband who confirmed the bump. I called my doctor and a week later I had a mammogram and an ultrasound done. The mammogram showed nothing because I had been breastfeeding a few months before so my breast tissue was very dense. But the ultrasound was definitive in the tell-tale black shadow that showed up on the screen. A week after this I had a biopsy done which was confirmed on my son’s first birthday.
What went through your head when you received your diagnosis?
I was very numb, unsure and in shock. It took me a few hours for it to sink in and I just broke down and cried.
What’s the craziest thing someone said to you after being diagnosed with breast cancer?
“You look so healthy, how can you have cancer?”
What has been your biggest source of support throughout your experience with cancer?
My faith in God and my husband.
What is the most difficult part of being a young woman with breast cancer?
I feel like I was pitied by people when they heard.
What’s something unexpected you learned about yourself?
I am so mentally strong and that I have a super positive mindset.
What words of wisdom would you pass on to another young person who has just been diagnosed with breast cancer?
Don’t be afraid to ask your questions. Heal in your own way by listening to yourself and what feels right to you. You can have as much or little control over your healing as you want.
If you or someone you know is a young woman with breast cancer looking for a community that relates and connects with your struggle, the Rethink Young Women’s Network might be right for you. For more information, click here.