#YWBC Profile : Trina

Name:  Trina Dawn

Age:  41

Occupation:  Retail/Re-sale business owner Lac La Biche, Northern Alberta

Age when diagnosed with breast cancer:  40

Breast cancer type:  Triple Negative Invasive Ductal Carcinoma

Breast cancer stage:  2b

Treatment:  I had a double mastectomy 2 weeks after diagnosis. 22 lymph nodes removed. 6 weeks later I started Chemo. FEC-D. FEC for 3 treatments every 3 weeks, then D for 3 treatments every 3 weeks. My last 2 treatments of D, Neupogen shots – 1 each day for 7 days – were added to my regime. (after a three-day stay in the hospital with Neutropenia)

Tell us a fun fact about yourself that has nothing to do with cancer:  I love to drive! My most favourite thing to do in this world is to grab my camera, fill up the gas tank, turn up the music, and to go where ever the open road takes me! And I have no fear! I will always choose to wander “off the beaten path”. THAT is where you find the most INTERESTING things!!

What’s your go-to pick-me-up song? “There’s a place.” – All American Rejects, “Fix you” – Young@heart Fred Kittles’ version I like music that makes me sentimental… That makes me happy…. Weird, huh?

How did you discover your breast cancer? I could feel the lump. I had been dealing with extreme exhaustion and a full body, muscle burning sensation. I was so tired that I couldn’t even imagine boarding the plane for an upcoming vacation I had planned. I had a small area on my breast that bothered me, but I had had that kind of a lump before – that after a mammogram – turned out to be nothing. I made an appointment with my doctor to address the exhaustion and casually mentioned the “lump”.

What went through your head when you received your diagnosis?  I worried instantly about how I was going to tell my husband, my boys, and my family and my friends without creating the fear that I was going to die from this. I mean, after all, it is CANCER! My 17 year old was starting final exams. My husband was busy starting a new job. My baby was only 9… I felt disconnected, and in shock.

What’s the craziest thing someone said to you after being diagnosed with breast cancer?  I don’t know that anyone said anything “crazy”. Or if they did, it never registered with me as being “crazy”. People usually try to say supportive things that can sometimes come out wrong. There is no fault in that. Cancer can sometimes be an awkward thing to talk about…

Who or what is/was your biggest source of support throughout your experience with cancer? My family and my friends. Cliche, but true. My husband has been very understanding about my ability to get things done – in my own time – depending on how I feel. My Mom – retired – replaced me at work. My sister has been there to comfort and distract me. To listen to me, and to cry for me. My girlfriends have called, visited, cooked for, and kept track of me. People in my community have prayed for me….

What is/was the most difficult part of being a young woman with breast cancer? The uncertainty of time… I’m only 40 years old! I have been married for 25 years. I have my 2 boys. I have the house, the cars, the job. My life was just settling into a groove where I could begin to get out there and “live” a little. My husband and I have worked hard to become stable and settled. Now, I have/had cancer. Part of me feels like I now have to rush through everything that I have wanted to do in my life before “time” runs out. And then part of me feels like this is just a bump in the road… I want to BELIEVE that I can survive this…

What’s something unexpected you learned about yourself as a result of having breast cancer?  I found my self esteem in breast cancer. Strange, huh? One would think that with having my breasts removed, the scars from treatment, my eyebrows/eyelashes gone, my head being bald, nails falling off, that I would be – maybe – MORE self conscious. I’m not. I am more confident now then I have ever been. Today – I am alive! And I somehow feel FREE!

In one sentence, what words of wisdom would you pass on to another young woman who has just been diagnosed with breast cancer?  * YOU matter! * Sometimes we get caught up in being “something to someone” – a mom, a wife, an employee, a woman with cancer – and we forget that WE have needs too. There is no shame in TAKING moments that bring YOU peace. Leave the dirty dishes until tomorrow. Call in sick and sit in the sand at a beach. Chase butterflies with your children. Stay snuggled in bed – with a good book – all day…. Take back the time that is YOURS!

For more on what it means to be young and have breast cancer click here.

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