Breast Cancer Grad- Lindsey Wallace
Name: Lindsey Wallace
Age at Enrollment: 23
Major: Stage 2, triple negative invasive ductal carcinoma
What were the primary symptoms you experienced prior to diagnosis? Only symptom I experienced was the lump, I found it myself while putting on lotion. The lump was 3 cm when I found it and by the time it was removed, it was 5.5 cm.
Courses completed: I initially had surgery to remove the lump. When they removed it they were convinced it was a fibroadenoma. My surgeon did not perform a biopsy because “girls my age don’t get breast cancer.” I went through 8 treatments over 16 weeks of chemotherapy. I did 4 treatments of Adriamycin and Cytoxan then the last 4 treatments were Taxol. I had another surgery following to remove the margins, since when they first removed the lump since they didn’t suspect it to be cancer so that’s all they removed- as well as a lymph node biopsy, they removed 4 of them. Lastly, I did 30 rounds of radiation. They asked me to try a clinical trial where I would do 6 rounds of a half dose of cisplatin but after 2 rounds they decided to stop because my body couldn’t tolerate it.
What was your hardest moment (or moments) and how did you you get through it/them? The hardest moments where when I was in the hospital. I was hospitalized 3 times for almost a week each time. The hospital I was admitted to the first 2 times were 45 minutes away from home so not many people were able to visit me. My mom would stay with me for about 6-8 hours a day and my fiancé would come later at night and stayed over a few times, but it was hard since he has to be at work so early in the morning, so far away. I felt extremely helpless, and although someone was with me most of the time, extremely alone. I truly had to rely on my faith and my God to get me through those times.
What advice would you give to someone who is newly diagnosed? What advice would you tell them to ignore? My advice to those newly diagnosed, ACCEPT AND ASK FOR HELP!!! You will need all the help, love, and support people are willing to give. Don’t shut down and shut people out, that will only bring more sadness and depression on yourself. It is OKAY TO FEEL SAD AND BE UPSET, you are going to experience every emotion, it’s okay to cry, it’s okay to be angry, you have every right to be. Don’t feel like you need to stay positive 24/7 because what you’re going through sucks and it’s not fair, so don’t disregard those feelings. But don’t fester and stay in that place of sadness and anger, because then you can get stuck there. Open up to others about how you’re feeling, deal with those feelings because that helps you move on and get back to a positive space. Ignore people who say, “it’s just hair, it’ll grow back.” Yes, although that statement is true, it’s okay to mourn the loss of that. Don’t ever feel foolish for how you’re feeling!!!
Are there any bad platitudes/bad recommendations that you’ve heard from other people regarding your diagnosis? I wouldn’t say that people gave me bad recommendations regarding my diagnosis, but just to always keep in mind that everyone is different. Everyone’s body reacts differently to their treatment and what they’re being put through. So something might have happened (or not happened) to them that may (or may not) happen to you.
When you feel overwhelmed or anxious, what do you do? When I would feel overwhelmed or anxious I would listen to worship music and just sing or pray to calm myself down and be at peace with whatever was going on at that moment, whether it just be frustration or a side effect I was dealing with. God really carried me through this time and I really don’t know what I would have done if it weren’t for Him.
Have you created any meaning out of this experience? If so, what was it/how did you do it? As much as this experience has sucked and I wish it didn’t have to happen, it has made me so much stronger. It has truly changed my life for the better and I have a completely different outlook on life. The little things that used to stress me out, don’t mean anything and I just shake it off. This experience has strengthened my relationship with God and has encouraged me to draw closer to Him. This experience has showed me cancer really does not discriminate, it can happen to anyone at anytime, no matter your lifestyle.
Did you learn anything about yourself or your life? If so, what was it? I learned that I am truly stronger than I thought I was. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
If you could write anything you wanted on a billboard in NYC’s Times Square that would reach millions of people, what would it read? If I could write anything on a billboard in NYC it’d be “Cancer does not discriminate,” and it’d have pictures of people’s faces of all different ages, genders, and races.