Name: Stephanie Massey
Occupation: Blogger and (Soon to be) Yoga Teacher
Age when diagnosed with breast cancer: 42
Breast cancer type: Invasive Ductal Carcinoma, ER+/PR+, Her2-
Breast cancer stage: Stage 2b
Treatment: Partial Mastectomy, Chemotherapy, Radiotherapy, Oophorectomy, Tamoxifen 5-10 years.
Tell us a fun fact about yourself that has nothing to do with cancer
I love coffee. Like everything about it. The growing and processing/roasting are fascinating to me. The brewing process feels nurturing. Then drinking my hot cup of java, in the morning while sitting looking out the window watching the wild songbirds at the feeder – well, that is just the magical moment of my day.
What’s your go-to pick-me-up song?
I have so many, but I will say that Coldplay’s “Everglow” re-sets my mind every time I listen to it.
How did you discover your breast cancer?
I found it myself. I noticed a dimple in my skin, and then could feel the lump. I delayed seeing the doctor. I wish I hadn’t, but, it is what it is now. I was scared. My Mom had just gone through Breast Cancer treatment five years before. I was thinking, this can’t be cancer I am too young. I also have dense breasts, so I feel many lumps all the time, sometimes they change, but this one, it did not change.
What went through your head when you received your diagnosis?
So so much went through my mind. The first thoughts were of my kids. At the time they were 14 and 12. I was worried this diagnoses would shatter them. So I told them that getting through this will be hard, but I can do it. I told them that I have always been strong and have gotten through hard stuff before. Looking back now, I can see how this has indeed shaped them, but in all honesty, it has made them stronger.
What’s the craziest thing someone said to you after being diagnosed with breast cancer?
In a grocery store line, someone randomly asked if I had tried weed? I guess they noticed my bald head and thought they were being helpful. Ha ha.
Who was your biggest source of support throughout your experience with cancer?
I had tremendous support. Friends and family were amazing cheerleaders. However, my biggest support person was my sister. We talked or texted everyday. We laughed and we cried but mostly we searched for the hidden gifts, ironies and sarcasm in this diagnoses.
What was the most difficult part of being a young woman with breast cancer?
The most difficult part of being young with Breast Cancer for me was facing genetic testing. Genetic testing is an absolute blessing and I absolutely got tested for everything that was possible to test for. My hesitation was in regards to my 14 year old daughter. The time while waiting for results was intense. I ran through scenarios over and over again. If genetics show a family history, does my 14 year old get tested? If so, what the hell? If not, what the hell? It was just so much to process. Luckily, all my tests were negative and I didn’t need to dive into this any deeper, but it was a really hard time.
What’s something unexpected you learned about yourself as a result of having breast cancer?
I learned that I am way, way, way stronger than I ever thought I could be.
In one sentence, what words of wisdom would you pass on to another young woman who has just been diagnosed with breast cancer?
Within the hell of cancer there are gifts, find them, hold onto them and learn from them.