I am an Austin, Texas breast cancer survivor who just celebrated my 7 year Breast Cancer Survivor Cancerversary!
Something Wasn’t Right
Back in 2009, after talking with three different doctors, I finally went in for a “cyst drainage” on September 24, 2009. I felt a lump, but since I was young and had recently had a baby, doctors were not very concerned. The doctors thought my lump was either a cyst or a clogged milk duct from pregnancy. I did not feel right. I could not tell you exactly what was wrong, but I knew something was off with my body. Finally, a general surgeon agreed to drain the “cyst” for my peace of mind.
Draining the “Cyst”
At the cyst draining procedure, the cyst did not drain. Hum? The doctor said it was most likely a fibroadenoma, a benign (non-cancer) tumor. Per protocol, the doctor ordered a biopsy just to be sure. Well, you know what happened next.
On September 25, 2009, I got the call. I actually had a playgroup going on at that time. There were a few other women and their kids at our house. I am sure they will always remember that day too.
Breast Cancer Diagnosis
I was diagnosed with aggressive triple negative, stage one breast cancer. I also have the BRCA1 gene mutation. On account of all of those things, I had a bilateral mastectomy (with reconstruction) and four rounds of chemo.
Breast Cancer Survivor Cancerversary – 7 Years Later
Fast forward seven years later, and here I am, celebrating my Breast Cancer Survivor Cancerversary. Seven years is a big deal for triple negative breast cancer survivors. Getting past the five year mark is considered a major milestone.
Although, I still have some lingering effects of the chemotherapy, Neulasta shot (for low blood count), or surgery, I can’t complain. I’m here. I have been able to watch my kids grow up, attend family gatherings, and hang out with friends. That’s what it’s all about, right?
In the last seven years, I have cheered for my kids in sports games, run a few half marathons, attended weddings and Bar Mitzvahs, taken family vacations and romantic getaways with my husband, enjoyed and danced to live music (especially from one of my favorite Austin bands, The Brew), attended my 20-year high school reunion, and so much more!
I’m still not out of the woods, though I can see the light peeking through the trees. Yes, I still have scanxiety. I have check-ups every few months and get anxiety before, during, and after medical tests. I still have more surgeries in my future because of my BRCA mutation. This is all scary stuff, but I take it one day at a time and try to enjoy each day to the fullest. I am thankful for these seven years and hope for many more.
If you know anyone having a mastectomy or other breast surgery, these breast cancer recovery shirts are a must-have.
Rachel K. Belkin, M.Ed, is a journalist and writer with over 15 years of expertise in travel, business and marketing education, health, and local Austin, Texas events.
With a Master's degree in education from Texas State University and a Business Foundations Certification from The University of Texas at Austin McCombs School of Business, Rachel's extensive background is highlighted by her published works and contributions to prestigious publications, including HuffPost, Hometalk, Matador Network, AP News, and MSN.com, as well as on her own platforms, Rachel K. Belkin, Elkin Bay, and Probe the Globe.
Beyond her accomplishments in writing, Rachel is a sought-after educator, teaching businesses effective marketing strategies and content creation techniques. Notably, she successfully built a blog from scratch in 2008, ultimately selling it for six figures in 2021.
Rachel's commitment to advocacy is exemplified by her role on the Breast Cancer Resource Center Advisory Council, particularly contributing to the success of the Young Survivor Project. Rachel is also an experienced public speaker with appearances on TV segments for Fox 7 Austin, KXAN, and CBS Austin and as a speaker at conferences and professional networking meetings for business owners and cancer survivors.