MDI: When were you diagnosed and what is your diagnosis?
LM: I was diagnosed in January 2014 after having a routine mammogram that revealed that I had developed a significant amount of calcification in both of my breast since the mammogram the year prior. I underwent additional biopsies, ultrasounds and sonograms to confirm the diagnosis. My diagnosis was Ductal Carcinoma in Situ. I had a bilateral mastectomy in May 2014. I was a initially a Stage 0/Grade 1; however, during surgery a lymph node was removed from under my armpit. It was tested and found to be positive for malignancy. The positive lymph node increased my Grade to 2-3. As a result I had to undergo chemotherapy (4 months), physical therapy (3 months), radiation (6 weeks) and I am currently on daily hormone therapy medication to end in December 2024.
MDI: Who/what/where did you turn to after hearing your diagnosis?
LM: Immediately following my diagnosis, I shared the outcome with a very close girlfriend and secondly my mother. A very private person, I initially only shared my diagnosis with those who needed to know. Primarily, it was my family because I had to undergo genetic testing and needed to know my family medical history. As for my friends, co-workers and church/social relationships, I did not say anything until just before the surgery. Because I received my diagnosis before turning age 50, I was considered high risk and eligible for additional testing e.g., BRCA and HER. Thusly, there was a 4 month gap from the time that I learned about my diagnosis and the time that I would have the surgery and I did not want people to treat me differently during that time.
MDI: Could you describe how sharing your story has affected your journey with Cancer?
LM: Sharing my story has given me understanding of my purpose for having gone through cancer. Every year since I have been on this journey, I have been afforded an opportunity to share my testimony. This has blessed me in that I am a firm believer that my story inspires someone, encourages someone, and supports someone who may be going through. It makes feel honored to know that God chose me to be a living testimony about his healing powers.
MDI: Has your faith and prayers attributed to your healing and survival?
LM: If not for my faith in God, I truly don’t know what my prognosis would have been. My prayer definitely increased and my faith and trust in God soared. Because I knew “whose” I was and “who” was healing me, I was able to maintain a positive attitude which I will always believe was half the battle. I never questioned, “Why me Lord?”, because I always knew His response would have been “why not me!”
What “words of wisdom” and/or advice would you give any young adult facing Cancer or another life-threatening illness?
I would tell anyone facing a life threatening/traumatic event that if God brought you to it, He will surely bring you through it, so stay encouraged and put your faith and trust in Him.
MDI: What message would you like to share for women who have not had a mammogram?
LM: Although mammography may be uncomfortable, it is a necessary act in life that we must endure. Take it from me, had I not gotten my mammogram when I did, there is no telling what state my cancer would have been once detected. We must prioritize our health! Without it, you can’t do anything anyway so why not invest in your physical and mental well-being while you can.