My name is Cassie Fedyshyn and I was diagnosed with breast cancer just one week after my 27th birthday. I can remember getting the call while at work and just losing it. How could this happen to me? I'm too young! What if it's spread everywhere? How are my kids going to cope without a mother?
These thoughts flooded my mind for almost a week, finally I was able to meet with my surgeon who was able to calm my thoughts. I was told I had a very large mass in my left breast and that the biopsy of my lymph nodes showed there may have been some metastasis, at this point I was given the decision to either have a lumpectomy or a mastectomy as well as a node dissection.
After pondering for a few days I decided the best decision would be to have a bilateral mastectomy as I felt in the long run it would ease my mind at the possibility of a reoccurrence. My surgery was scheduled for August 18, 2016.
During my follow up with my surgeon she informed me that the cancer was Stage III because it had spread to two of the twenty-two lymph nodes she removed. From this point I was setup with a wonderful oncologist whom I instantly bonded with. She setup my treatment plan and told me that my treatment goal was to be "cured." How could that not make you feel amazing? I instantly felt like I was in the right place and knew that I would survive this.
I underwent 4 rounds of Adriamycin/ Cytoxan chemotherapy which caused me to lose all of my hair, followed by 12 rounds of Taxol chemotherapy. Upon finishing my chemotherapy, I then underwent 28 rounds of radiation therapy on my left breast and underarm and on May 5, 2017, I was finally finished!
During these treatments I would not let myself give up, even at my weakest point I would be up doing the dishes, getting the kids ready for school, or going out to lunch with my best friend. I refused to give up and constantly reminded myself that my strength was going to get me through this.
This summer will be two years since my diagnosis and I can proudly say that I am a survivor! I am now using my personal story to be able to advocate for survivors and patients across the country. I was recently given an amazing opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C., with about 90 other patients, survivors, caregivers and doctors to advocate on Capitol Hill in front of Congress and the Senate to speak about the tribulations that we as survivors/patients are currently facing and why community oncology is so important for a patient fighting cancer, because at that time that your fighting to survive they're there fighting right along side you.
This is my first step of my advocating journey and I am looking forward to what the future holds for me!
"The road of life is never without trials and tribulations. Through the trials and tribulations of life come the openness to receive greatness. Sometimes it takes trials and tribulations to strengthen you for the glory ahead."-Unknown
Photo courtesy of Kevin Rivoli and The Citizen