Shannon P.

Tough Enough to Wear Pink

I was 44 years old when a routine mammogram discovered that I had 2 tumors and possible lymph node involvement. The day that my biopsy results came in I was headed to a horse show and had to detour to my doctors with my rig and my horse on board! My biopsyshowed that I had invasive ductal carcinoma that was grade 3, and what they call triple positive, Her2 +, ER+ and PR+, in short, the cancer was feeding off my hormones. That was the last horse show we got to compete in for 2017, most of it was a blur. Within 30 days of the biopsy I was scheduled for a single mastectomy and on July 13th, 2017 I lost my right breast. The pathology report showed that I was stage 3a, but my lymph nodes were still cancerous, and I was going to require radiation as well as chemo. I had a port placed into my chest due to the aggressiveness of the chemo that I was slated to receive, FEC-DH. For me, chemo was 6 rounds every 3 weeks, and on the 4th round I would start a drug called Herceptin and I would receive that every 3 weeks fora year. Chemo left my body ravaged, I gained 35 lbs. of water weight in ten days, I was so swollen they thought my skin was close to bursting. I met my radiation oncologist in December of 2017 and was sent for another CT scan to determine how much the chemo had done to destroy the cancer in my lymph nodes, it had shrunk it, but I still had a pin sized spot showing. Radiation started in January, 16 rounds of it. Radiation was easy compared to chemo, until near the end they tell you that you are going to continue to “cook” for a week to two weeks after the finish, they did not lie. Blistering and peeling ensued, relief was not easy. I had a follow up CT Scan in May to ensure that the cancer was gone, it was, we got it, and what no one warned me about it is that the day you are declared cancer free is as overwhelming and emotional as they day they tell you that you have cancer. The thing that cancer taught me was to look forward to things, how to really live, I rode through chemo and I ordered a new work saddle with my name and the breast cancer ribbon on it to mark the end of chemo, I went with my friends and my horse to Vegas to the Silver Dollar Circuit to celebrate the end of radiation, I traveled more in 2018 just making sure that I was experiencing life,rather than being scared of what cancer could do. I am almost 2 years to my diagnosis date, I still have some side effects that I am dealing with as I am on a ten-year hormone therapy drug, it has changed the way I show horses, but instead of giving up I just modified to what my body is capable of handling. I have completed phase 1 of the reconstruction process called DIEP Flap, and will be undergoing phase 2 sometime this spring. My cancer team tells me that this is a marathon and not a sprint. I really didn’t understand what Tough Enough to Wear Pink meant until it was myself that needed to dig in and find the warrior within. My moto now is enjoy life, ride the horse, buy the shoes (just don’t tell my husband I have 5 pairs of Twisted X shoes!!!!!) and never ever stop living!

-Shannon P.