My name is Jessica Johnson. I am 33 years old. I was diagnosed with Stage 3 Er+, Pr-, Her2+, Grade 3 Breast Cancer in September 2017. I had a bilateral mastectomy with lymph-node removal in October 2017 and then went through chemo, radiation. I am currently on Herceptin and Tamoxifen and just recently had a total hysterectomy.
Now that all that has been said. I must say that is not who I am. I am nerdy. I say the wrong things at inappropriate times, my sense of humor is off, but it suits me fine. I loved playing with wigs (minus me destroying the first two with scissors, oops.) I love to joke my boob to belly ratio is off but let’s be honest, I’ve always had a little Buddha belly. I’m clumsy. I love chocolate. I am into zodiac signs and horror movies. I’m also the very proud mother of an 8-year-old little diva named Liliana. I found it hard to write this after my hysterectomy. I cannot always say I am upbeat regarding the speed bump I am enduring. Sometimes I get down but that’s okay. Everyone has trying times and mine are just a little different.
I was born premature and I had 26 shunt revisions (brain surgeries) since I was born up until I was 27. I had a lump in my breast that I noticed when I was 32. For four months I just went with the “it’s a cyst” theory because I had no family history and I was too young to have ever had a mammogram. I had a mammogram and ultrasound the same day and I waited for a period that I knew was too long. I am supposed to go home after the tests, aren’t I?
They immediately sent me over to my doctor’s office. It was clear it was cancer and it had spread throughout my breast. I was very scared, more scared of the unknown because I had never dealt with this. Give me a shunt revision any day because I’m use to that. The words chemotherapy, mastectomy and radiation were a foreign language to me. But I made a decision in the weeks to follow. I saw so many people on the breast cancer sites I was following say that it had destroyed their life, everything was over and life was miserable. No, I don’t want that. If I sink into this idea then what will be left for me after treatment, because there WILL BE an after treatment.
So as I was healing from the mastectomy, I saw a job I had been wanting posted. I applied. I went to the interview and I got the job even though I had to shave my head that night. I was open and honest with my diagnosis. But I was also firm and stubborn with the unwillingness for it to change where I wanted to go. I did that with the idea there will be an after treatment. I am not going to let breast cancer stop my life, only I can do that. I am in control and I will take it one step further and thrive from breast cancer.
I am still at that job, and I have barely missed a day minus the hysterectomy time currently. I am looking forward to saying I am done with Herceptin, it’s almost one year since I was diagnosed. Wow, I just thought of that, it has really been a year. I’m in a much better place than last year. I guess you can say I met my goal. I didn’t just live through breast cancer treatment, I thrived. Also, I am very much so looking forward to new breasts. It’s the little silver linings that keep you going.
I guess if I could give any word of encouragement to fellow fighters and survivors it would be, Don’t let breast cancer define you; you define breast cancer. Be the face people turn to and go “WOW, I didn’t know, you look so normal.” Laugh and say ‘I have never been normal.’