By Michele Lopez

My name is Michele Lopez and I am a two-year breast cancer survivor.

My story began after they found calcifications in my right breast that didn’t look right and decided to do a biopsy. When I got the results from my primary care physician, she said they found pre-cancer cells in my breast and that I needed to see a breast specialist.  So I was a little concerned but not overly since she said it was just pre-cancer cells.

I went to my appointment, which was with an entire team, and they were talking to me about the type of cancer I have and finally I said, Wait a minute, why are you saying the type of cancer I have? I thought it was pre-cancerous? And they said, No you have ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), which is an early form of breast cancer.

So now I had to process this. I was not prepared for this at all.  Thank God I had my best friend with me so she could listen to a lot of the information that was given to me, because I felt as though I was numb.  So I was given my treatment options and decided that I would have a lumpectomy and then undergo radiation.

Now I had to go home and tell my family what was going on, and I dreaded telling my kids.  I was raising my three children on my own and I have always been a strong person to them. I didn’t want them to feel that would change in any way.  My son is the youngest, he was 10 at the time, and he took it hard and was worried that something would happen to me. That was difficult for me as well.  I just had to reassure him that no matter what, the doctors were doing the best they could to help me get better.

Two weeks later, I had my surgery and those two weeks leading up to the surgery seemed liked an eternity.  Now I just wanted to get the cancer out of me.  Then came the waiting for a couple of weeks for pathology results, and when I went to the doctors for my post-op expecting to set up my radiation appointments, I found out that they were not able to get all of the cancer. They did not get any clean margins and they recommended a mastectomy.  Again unprepared for the news I received, I was devastated…How can this be happening to me especially since it was early breast cancer?

I left the doctor’s office and told him I had to think about it.  When I got home I called my mom in Georgia and cried for the first time during this whole process.  She told me, What is there to think about?  Don’t you want to live?  Then you know what you need to do.

I had my mastectomy and had breast reconstruction.  I also was lucky enough to have family and friends who have unfortunately gone through similar situations, and were a great source for support.  One of my close friends also introduced me to the Pink and Black Ambassadors which helped me see that I was not alone on this journey.  It was a very physical and emotional journey but I am grateful to be able to tell my story.

The Pink and Black Ambassadors are breast cancer survivors who empower other women to know their bodies, get screened, get treatment, and defy the odds. Learn more here.