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Cancer doesn’t discriminate

Samantha Gervais

Anchor Staff Writer

Image via Pexels

October is popularly known for being Breast Cancer Awareness month, with explosions of pink being suddenly everywhere we look. It’s posted all over school, and all over industries that suddenly seem to be advocates, just like during Pride month, and on social media, too. All of which ask you to open your wallet and donate money to one organization or another.

Obviously, breast cancer isn’t the only cancer that deserves recognition; cancer is cancer, and it does not discriminate. In lieu of breast cancer awareness month, I urge my fellow students to take caution and not have a “Well, it can’t happen to me” attitude. Admit it, most, if not all of us, have thought this in the past at one point or another. Not necessarily having to be about something medicinal, it could be about something trivial, too. Unfortunately, breast cancer has taken the lives of far too many women in the world. More often, many of the women I know haven’t been checking themselves, or even been to a gynecologist or general doctor for years. All of us are college kids, so of course, we believe we are all untouchable, that time is never ending and this is supposed to be the best times of our lives. That is true, but only to an extent. Let me give you a scenario.

Imagine one day, you find a lump on the side of your body. It doesn’t really feel like anything, but it’s something that makes you think, “I’ll go to the doctors just to be safe, why not.” That’s the smart thing to do, right? Of course. Knowing that there is a lump in a spot that women don’t want there to be a lump in, your doctor goes the full nine yards to make sure everything is in tip-top shape. Though, seeing its size, it will be a nuisance to get out. Surgery it is. Surgery is a trip. You get marked, ready to go in and come out with nothing but nausea and cottonmouth and just want to get out of the hospital. They smell too sterile, and you want your own bed at that point.

Then as you’re going through a very difficult recovery and a few phone calls already with the doctor to talk about an excruciating building pressure of scar tissue and dead blood inside the area where a cyst was just removed, the phone rings. After picking up the call, your physician tells you, “I’m glad you came in. I’m so sorry, honey, you have to come to my office this week. You have cancer.” Your world would come shattering down, wouldn’t it? I know mine did.

This was my exact scenario. The aforementioned example I just explained was my exact scenario in March of 2019. That day, time stopped, and I felt the world go silent and my heart stopped. I couldn’t have cancer. I was only 24. I was diagnosed with DCIS, or “Stage 0 cancer” as my doctor referred to it as.

The doctor was thrilled to remove it, but as the size of this tumor had grown since the last imaging took place, she feared it may have been ready to become worse. The process of going through treatment was long and tedious. I attended radiation therapy every day, half an hour, for six and a half weeks. This was to be followed by five years on a chemotherapeutic medication. I quickly was removed from this chemotherapeutic treatment, due to the medication giving me two blood clots that had split into my lungs and a partial mastectomy.

I still struggle with the side effects of each treatment. Thankfully, not nearly as bad as a few years ago, but they linger. I am, as of this moment, two years cancer free.

I explain this story to coincide with me simply asking that my classmates, and maybe even staff, take my advice to always stay on top of your health. Make sure you know how to properly check for any signs of tumors or lumps that shouldn’t be around, and make sure to examine regularly. It isn’t too difficult to check when you shower. It’s always easy for women in their 20s and even 30s to think “Not me,” and I know, this can apply to a lot, but in this case, it is never okay to really say, “Not me.

Cancer will not, and does not discriminate. We have the power to do our best to help ourselves and others. I’d also like to dedicate this article to my beloved breast specialist and surgeon, who saved my life and was truly like family to me: Doctor Marlene Cutitar, who unfortunately passed away earlier this year. The pain of losing someone who is so critical to your care team truly is like losing family. Her love of life formed my own passions and love even more. Life is precious.


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