LEIGH, 15 Year Survivor
Founder, Feel Your Boobies
I never thought much about breast cancer at all. Until I was 33, and was diagnosed with it.
I was a marathon runner with no family history and the lump was undetected by doctors during my annual exams for a couple years before my diagnosis. I didn’t do traditional breast self-exams, but I did “feel my boobies”, you know just during the course of daily routine. And something felt different. It was a hard ridge at the bottom of my left breast. It didn’t hurt and didn’t really change so I wasn’t too worried. But little by little I started to feel like something just wasn’t right.
At the time, I was in the middle of a move from New York City back to Central PA where I grew up. I was finally getting settled in my first house when it came time for my annual exam. Since I was seeing a new nurse practitioner I mentioned the lump and that previous doctors weren’t concerned. She felt it would be best to get a mammogram just to be on the safe side. So after a mammogram, ultrasound, and then a biopsy, it was confirmed as Stage 1 breast cancer. I was unmarried and had no children at the time of diagnosis, and felt like my life came to a screeching halt. I wondered what the future would hold.
I had a lumpectomy, 12 weeks of chemo, and 7 weeks of daily radiation. I then completed 5 years of Tamoxifen. During that time I did get married and hoped that once I was done with Tamoxifen (which would put me at age 39), that I’d still be able to have kids. Fortunately, at age 40 and 42, I gave birth to two healthy young boys (Eli & Leo). I call them my angel beasts because if breast cancer didn’t kill me, these two little crazies just might.
The work I do through Feel Your Boobies is a gift that breast cancer gave me. It has allowed me to spend my days doing work that I feel passionate about and that has purpose. I can’t imagine doing anything else and I can only hope that I can do this for another 15 years.