#YWBC Profile: Miranda
Occupation: Provisional psychologist
Age when diagnosed with breast cancer: 28
Breast cancer type: Invasive ductal carcinoma
Breast cancer stage: 2
Treatment: 7 rounds of neo-adjuvant chemotherapy, left breast lumpectomy, 30 radiation treatments, 10 years of hormone therap
Tell us a fun fact about yourself that has nothing to do with cancer.
I’m a pretty big geek! One of my favourite pastimes is playing video games with my older brother. We’ve played everything from World of Warcraft to Terraria and we are currently attempting to stay alive in the survival game Don’t Starve Together – it’s a lot of fun and keeps us in touch, since we haven’t lived in the same city for about 6 years now.
What’s your go-to pick-me-up song?
“Sweet Nothing” – Calvin Harris feat. Florence Welch
How did you discover your breast cancer?
I was in the shower, washing myself with a shower puff when I noticed the top of my left breast had a hard lump that was painful to touch. I asked my partner to check it for me too (to make sure I wasn’t making things up) and immediately made a doctor’s appointment when my partner confirmed there was definitely something there. My physician was wonderful when I met with him and, although he didn’t think it was cancer, he sent me for an emergency ultrasound and mammogram. Thank goodness he did!
What went through your head when you received your diagnosis?
That I was going to die, plain and simple. I kept thinking that it was just my luck that something like this would happen to me, considering I have a crippling fear of death and my life over the past year was already complicated with other, personal issues. I worried that it would have spread and I would be given a short amount of time to live and that would be that.
What’s the craziest thing someone said to you after being diagnosed with breast cancer?
“You’re so young!” How many times do young people diagnosed with cancer hear this? And what is this supposed to elicit in response? I think it’s a crazy thing to say, especially to someone you don’t know (which is where I’ve heard this from), like we don’t know that we are young and that having cancer at our age is unusual. I never know how to respond to this, so I just agree.
Who or what is/was your biggest source of support throughout your experience with cancer?
Easily, my partner and my mom. My partner was the one I could have serious, emotional conversations with, or I could just cry on his shoulder about how scared and overwhelmed I felt. He was, and continues to be, my invaluable emotional support, even though I know it can be hard for him to understand exactly where I am coming from sometimes.
My mom was the practical support throughout treatment. She came and stayed with us in Lethbridge for most of my chemotherapy treatments, surgery, and the end of radiation. She cooked all our meals, cleaned our house, and kept me company while my partner was at work.
What is/was the most difficult part of being a young woman with breast cancer?
The way cancer interrupted my life, right when I needed things to be stable. I was in the middle of finishing my registration to become a psychologist, looking for work, and moving to Lethbridge to finally be with my partner after many years of long-distance, when I was diagnosed. Now, several months after treatment has ended, I still feel off balance; I’m still recovering, physically and mentally, from treatment, have yet to finish my registration process, and am still not working. I feel like I’ve lost 1.5 years of my life and I’m perpetually behind where I wanted to be, but also scared to move forward.
What’s something unexpected you learned about yourself as a result of having breast cancer?
That I have created connections with many more people than I expected throughout my life that came out of the woodwork to provide supportive words, time, finances, and love. For example, I received the most incredibly beautiful bouquet from someone I went to highschool with, completely out of the blue, just because she wanted to. I have been astounded at people’s generosity and the impact my story must have made on them, even if we haven’t kept in touch.
In one sentence, what words of wisdom would you pass on to another young woman who has just been diagnosed with breast cancer?
It’s ok to be scared and overwhelmed, there is nothing easy about this experience.
For more wisdom on being young with breast cancer check out Rethink Breast Cancer’s Care Guidelines here.