Name: Melanie De Souza
Age when diagnosed with breast cancer: 32
Breast cancer type: HR+/ HER2-
Breast cancer stage: Stage IV Metastatic to bones
Treatment: FEC-D, Xeolda, 35 rounds radiation, Ibrance, letrozole.
Tell us a fun fact about yourself that has nothing to do with cancer.
I can’t think of a fun fact simply because I do not have any hidden talents such as touching my elbow with my tongue. However, today I did something that I think was pretty fun. I drove an ATV to my healing session with a yoga mat strapped to my back. I mean it’s not a fun fact but I bet I looked pretty fun driving up that country road.
What’s your go-to pick-me-up song?
Ladders by Mac Miller
How did you discover your breast cancer?
I had been having symptoms (major fatigue, heavy periods which I had never experienced before, tender breasts and I was never hungry) for about four months however never found a lump. I had gone to a doctor that did not take me seriously due to my age and the fact that I was a young mom of two and running my own small business. I had gone a few times to my doctor only to be told I wouldn’t find anything on a mammogram. Like any trusting patient (that was my first error) I believed him and figured I was just over-worked and tired. Fast forward four months, I found a seven cm lump on my left breast. Later I found out it had spread to my lymph nodes.
What went through your head when you received your diagnosis?
But I am only 32.
What’s the craziest thing someone said to you after being diagnosed with breast cancer?
A friend of my family reached out to let me know that his sister-in-law worked at a funeral home. Why did I need to know that? I wasn’t dying!
Who is your biggest source of support throughout your experience with cancer?
My family. I honestly do not know what I would do without my family. I am not only talking about my blood relatives but also my friends who have always been there for me before and after receiving my diagnosis, who showed me the support I never knew I needed.
What is the most difficult part of being a young woman with breast cancer?
I really struggle with the concept that I am in my 30’s and when my life was just falling into place everything was suddenly not promised to me. Although it was never a guarantee that I would be able to watch my children grow up, I am now given a timeline as to how long I will be there for them.
What’s something unexpected you learned about yourself as a result of having breast cancer?
Before cancer, I was always on the move. Always moving to the next goal, the next milestone, the next adventure. Something I learned about myself is that I actually like to stop and smell the roses.
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.