I’m a Breast Cancer Survivor: Jamie DeBates

I was at a stoplight when I felt a pinch on the right side of my breast. I adjusted my bra, thinking it was just the underwire, when I felt the lump. I like to think it was an angel pinching me, alerting me that there was something wrong. I was only 39-years-old.

When I went to the surgeon for a biopsy, his exact words were, “I would be really surprised if it wasn’t cancer.” Leaving the office, I was convinced I had it. The doctor called some time later when I was at my daughter’s swim lesson to confirm the diagnosis.

The treatment was fantastic! Kidding! I had a bi-lateral mastectomy with immediate reconstruction followed by chemotherapy. When the doctor placed my port in, he nicked my lung during treatment. When I left, I didn’t feel right so I rushed to the emergency room where I discovered I had a collapsed lung. I had to have a chest tube inserted. Chemotherapy was incredibly hard, mentally as well as physically. I felt sick all the time and I was a wreck. I swear it made me crazy.

My last treatment was September 20th of 2012 and I have been going strong since then. If I could offer only one piece of advice it would be, STAY OFF THE INTERNET! I was diagnosed with Triple Negative Breast Cancer and when searching this type it was not encouraging at all. I felt like I had one foot in my grave. Triple Negative Breast Cancer is highly aggressive and has a higher rate of recurrence, which can only be treated with chemotherapy. If you have questions, ask your doctor or a specialist—not the internet.

There are times when you aren’t strong and you aren’t positive—and that’s OK! It’s OK to have those moments of feeling like you can’t do it. I had my own dark moments when I was convinced I wasn’t going to make it. In those times I relied heavily on my family and friends—they were my rock. Cancer has opened my eyes to a whole new, beautiful world with amazing people. It’s too bad it took a cancer diagnosis to do that. I will never say it was a gift, but it was a huge reality check on what was important in my life.

Story by Pypeline Editing

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Photo: Jamie DeBates