By Rethink Breast Cancer February 6 2019
Name: Nadine Parsons
Occupation: Jewelry Wholesaler / On-air style expert for TSC
Age when diagnosed with breast cancer: 35
Breast cancer type: ER / PR + & HER2 –
Breast cancer Stage: 4 / metastatic
Hormone Therapy (Letrozole & salpingo-oophorectomy completed Nov, 2018) / Targeted Therapy (Palbociclib (Ibrance) ongoing) / Bone Strengthening (every three months, bisphosphonates (Zometa) / And April, 2018 completion of Kyphoplasty to treat several vertebrae compressions, fractures.
Tell us a fun fact about yourself that has nothing to do with cancer
I majored in opera for my undergraduate degree.
What’s your go-to pick-me-up song?
Dancing with Myself – Billy Idol (How can you NOT move to this!!)
How did you discover your breast cancer?
I felt a lump in my left breast and brought it up with my family doctor (when I was 34). I was sent for an ultrasound and mammogram but was told I was too young for a mammogram and that the lump was a series of cysts. Fast forward one year and I began to experience very deep & consistent pain through my low back and hips. I ended up with a permanent limp and on New Year’s Eve 2017 I ended up in emergency because I couldn’t physically get out of bed with pain. I was admitted after an MRI the following Thursday for a week because I had cancer and they had to run countless tests. We didn’t find out it was breast cancer until a couple of weeks later.
What went through your head when you received your diagnosis?
Initial reaction: (You have cancer. But we don’t know anything else – Emergency department)
How the f**k can this be happening. I am so ‘good’. It’s got to be a mistake. I’ve taken extra precautions because of mom and dad. (Mom died at 45 of colon cancer and my dad had bladder cancer, but he is ok, thank God!)
Stage 4 / Breast cancer reaction:
I can’t breathe. Oh my God, I’m going to die. Pure shock, helpless, hopeless, cancel the RRSP’s, and I don’t want to die. Racing and yet nothing all at the same time.
What’s the craziest thing someone said to you after being diagnosed with breast cancer?
An acquaintance in my industry called me out of the blue to tell me that if I wanted to save my life, I should go to a miracle medicine man in Ethiopia. And that if she were in my shoes ‘she would do whatever she could to save her life.’
Believe it or not, I actually considered it for about an hour. That’s how vulnerable I was.
Who has been your biggest source of support throughout your experience with cancer?
My husband. There are no words for the amount of love and strength he provides me. Our love and bond has only strengthened through this experience. He listens (and that’s one of the biggest things I am thankful for).
(Even when, last night for example, I came home tipsy from too many drinks with a girlfriend and started to cry because 1. I felt guilty for drinking and 2. I felt mad that because I have what I have, I ‘shouldn’t’ do many things and then I just feel so NOT normal.)
What is the most difficult part of being a young woman with breast cancer?
Perhaps an overall lack of awareness of communication from health care providers and the repercussions of how treatments will create such massive changes to the body. Menopause at 37 sucks. I had chosen not to have children, but having the ultimate decision ripped away still affected me. Also, hot flashes, mood swings & my sexual health (aka extremely painful intercourse) is NO fun and I never got instructed on the severity of what was about to happen when put into menopause so quickly.
What’s something unexpected you learned about yourself as a result of having breast cancer?
I learned that I am so much stronger than I thought. I’ve got SO much more perspective on what’s truly valuable in life. I was always so career driven and worried too much about what others thought of me, etc. NOW, I know that a simple walk, the sun on my face, a cup of tea, playing countless games of ‘Monopoly Deal’ with my husband …those are truly the moments that I feel most alive and happy.
In one sentence, what words of wisdom would you pass on to another young woman who has just been diagnosed with breast cancer?
Just breathe. Deeply. Try to block out the noise because it’s going to come at you whether you like it or not and it’s going to take some time to settle in. Trust yourself. Women are very intuitive and above all else, believe with your whole heart that ‘you’ve got this.’