It was one day before Brooke turned 42 when she received the unexpected news.
“I started my mammograms like I should, at age 40,” Brooke explained. “I didn’t even think to be worried about breast cancer. It hadn’t even occurred to me.”
Brooke was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma, triple positive, Stage 1A breast cancer.
“When I was first diagnosed, it was just completely overwhelming. There is a lot to decide.” She ultimately underwent a bilateral mastectomy and 16 weeks of chemotherapy. She continued on Herceptin, a targeted therapy, following chemotherapy. Simultaneously, she underwent reconstruction.
Although Brooke was exhausted from treatment, she remained determined to continue working full-time. “I wasn’t 100%, but my employer allowed me a lot of leeway. It was helpful to my psychological well-being to be able to continue working,” she said.
Brooke relied on her dad to be her caregiver and main support system throughout treatment. “My father was my rock. He lived in my living room and went with me to virtually every chemo.”
A colleague of Brooke’s recommended that she set up a site on MyLifeLine.org to keep all of her co-workers, friends and family updated on her progress.
“I didn’t have the energy or time to reply to every email and phone call. My colleague set up my website for me. Initially, I thought this wasn’t for me, but it became my lifesaver,” Brooke reflected. “It made me feel not alone. It made me feel connected.”
Brooke posted updates about her treatment on her MyLifeLine.org site and used it as an outlet to express herself. “I got a lot of support. People were satisfied and happy to know what was going on,” she said. “It was great to see the messages. I could read them at my leisure and respond when I was feeling up to it.”
Brooke says there have been silver linings from having cancer. “Cancer has made me a stronger person. It calls on you to pull on strength that you don’t necessarily know you have. I was relieved to know I had it.”
Throughout her cancer journey and on MyLifeLine.org, Brooke was able to reconnect with people in her life that she hadn’t been in close contact with. “People really come together and want to help. It enabled some stronger connections with people; it was a great benefit that I didn’t anticipate.”
After going through cancer, Brooke has advice for other cancer patients. “Be able to let go of some control. Listen to others that have been through it.”
Today Brooke is cancer-free and taking on post-cancer life day-by-day. “I’m trying not to focus on a possible reoccurrence. I’m thankful for every day and I move forward,” Brooke explained.