Editor’s note: Researchers say they’re not sure why the rates of aggressive breast cancer have been going up each year for women under 40. Randi Wideman was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 27 and shares her experience on her blog, Treasures in Heaven. She'll join Evening Express in the 5 p.m. ET hour for the "Must See Must Share" moment of the day.
Hi friends. My name is Randi Wideman. I am 29 years old, and I am married to the greatest man I know, Matt, and we have a beautiful, full of life, 2-year-old daughter, McKinley, and a dashing golden retriever puppy, named Trigger.
I am a former high school physics teacher who loves adventure and laughter and who is passionate about my faith. I dream of having a house full of kids, of being a soccer mom who cooks big family meals and never misses a game.
I am also a breast cancer survivor. In October of 2011, at the age of 27 and with a 14-month-old baby, I was diagnosed with stage 2b invasive ductal carcinoma of the breast. Since then I have undergone a bilateral mastectomy and complete breast reconstruction. I have also undergone 16 rounds of chemotherapy and am currently receiving hormone therapy and I have been put into a medically induced menopause.
However, this past October I was declared NED -- no evidence of disease! So as I write this today, I feel healthier and happier than I ever have before. But I know so well the devastation and despair that cancer brings.
There have been so many challenging days in the past one and a half years. If you’ve been through this journey, you understand: The countless doctor appointments, the emotional turmoil of a cancer diagnosis, the physical pain of surgery, the inability to completely care for my beautiful baby girl and husband, the financial burden, the endless nausea and exhaustion from chemotherapy, and the insomnia that leads to many sleepless nights have all been incredibly challenging.
However, the most challenging aspect of our cancer journey is its potential effect on my ability to have any more biological children. My type of breast cancer was fueled by estrogen and progesterone, so the best way to prevent any further growth of this cancer is shut down the production of these hormones. So for now, they have suppressed my ovarian function by causing me to enter a medically induced menopause. Menopause is no fun! The side effects are very inconvenient!
However, the goal of my amazing team of doctors is that in two years we will take a break from all the medicine and see if my ovaries come back to life. We are hopeful, but there is definitely no promise that I will be able to conceive again. I am a tough girl, I am a fighter, I can handle physical pain, but the thought of not having any more biological babies breaks my heart.
But I know now that there is no life and no joy when we dwell in our pain. I do not know what my tomorrow holds, but I have a deep faith in Who holds my tomorrow. He took the cross, so I can take this cancer.
So, my greatest advice to young women facing this crazy trial is to find light amidst this dark cancer world we live in. Believe in something bigger than yourself. Find hope. Surround yourself with people who will push you in a positive direction, who encourage your spirit and who don’t allow you to wallow in your pain.
Don’t stop serving others; the best thing you can do is to take the focus off yourself and put it on other people. Love passionately. Even though we may be sick, let us live life abundantly. Who cares if we are sick and bald? We are beautiful and brave and our breast cancer does not define us. Our young age only allows us the strength to fight fiercely.
Cancer can only take from us what we let it. I vow, and I hope you will too, to not let cancer rob us of joy, love and abundant life.
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