Warriors

The Stripes of Mindy Mitchell

At the age of 29, I was diagnosed with Triple Negative Breast Cancer. I found a lump in my breast seven months before I was diagnosed. I was taking off my sports bra and I noticed a lump the size of an eyeball in my left breast, so I called and set an appointment. At the appointment the Doctor felt it and took a needle to my breast to see if any liquid would come out…no liquid came out so she said I was fine…NO WORRIES, but she still wanted to schedule an ultrasound to check and see what it was. I went and they checked and said it was a “fiber” something, I can never remember the name. I really wanted it to be taken out, so they put me on a waiting list. Seven months go by and I got NO call. While I was working at the restaurant I received a huge hug from one of my regulars and it HURT, after that I noticed the lump had gotten bigger. I scheduled another appointment and they did a lumpectomy. They told me that it was nothing to worry about and we scheduled to get my results for the following Tuesday, Nov 11, 2014.

I decided to go to the appointment alone. The Dr. took a long time to come in…I was her first appointment so I knew before she told me that it was cancer. The Dr. was devastated and I told her, “hey calm down, I can die on the drive home.” The cancer was attached to a lymph nod. Not only that, they found more cancer in the same breast. I was told that it was Triple Negative Breast Cancer, which means that the three most common types of receptors known to fuel most breast cancer growth–estrogen, progesterone, and the HER-2/neu gene– are not present in the cancer tumor.

As I was leaving the appointment I was swarmed with text messages from my mom, she already knew that something had to be wrong. The rest of my family was all over the place. My 10 year old niece Kaela stayed home from school that day and was home with my mom, and my sisters were both attending a funeral for a friend. I didn’t want to tell my mom with my niece around, I felt like I needed to be more sensitive to her and her feelings or thoughts because she was so young. So I called my best friend Natalie and told her “hey I have cancer, go get Kaela so I can tell my mom. I’ll text you when I’m done.” The rest of the day is kind of a blur. I didn’t realize how much this would affect those around me. It was harder for me to tell them and see their reactions, than it was for me knowing that I had cancer. I was okay with it, but I had no power or control over their thoughts.

Every person responds to the “news” of cancer differently. Some people stick around and some people can’t handle it. My mom was my ROCK! She attended every appointment with me, she was my memory during chemo and every Dr.’s appointment, I relied on her, and she never left my side.

The day before chemo I shaved my head with my family and friend. I didn’t want cancer to take my hair, so we shaved it! Everyone got a turn. It’s all about making memories for me, even during the hard stuff.

Chemotherapy started December 18th, five days before my 30th birthday. It was a big bust, but I can say I got cancer off of the “bucket list.” I would start chemo on Thursday and then I would make sure I went outside on Friday. My 9-year-old niece, Kenzie, didn’t care or maybe didn’t understand how I was feeling, but every Sunday I was forced to take her on a scooter ride. Every Monday I would drive my nieces to school and as soon as I got home my mom would take away my keys. I would have five bad days of chemo, my whole body hurt and it felt like I was just hit by a truck. Every three weeks I’d go in for another round and start this cycle all over again.

Before each round of chemo we took the girls out of school and we would go to Disneyland or go to the beach. I wanted to focus on spending time with my family and making memories.

I had to get hydrated twice a week and it was terrible because I would vomit every time. Lets talk about the pick line, GROSS! Eeby jeebies! BUT it did save me from getting poked with needles on every visit.

My last round of chemo was April 23, 2015.

I had my double mastectomy on June 9th. I had to wait for my liver counts to get better or else I would have had the surgery sooner. They removed 22 lymph nods thinking that the cancer had returned. On June 12th I found out that the cancer was gone! Best day EVER!

My initial reaction to seeing myself without any boobs wasn’t too hard. The scars meant “completion” to me because I knew that the cancer was gone. No one explained to me about the drains so that was probably the hardest part for me to get over. I’m a big time hugger and I couldn’t hug people because there was a possibility of them getting pulled out. The drains just hung from my body and it made me nauseous every time they touched me. Serious eeby jeebies!!

I started my last phase of treatments on September 2nd… 25 rounds of radiation, five days a week, Monday-Friday. Radiation wasn’t too bad, easy in the beginning and then towards the end the burning really started to settle in. It’s like a sunburn…it got really itchy. On October 13th I was finally finished with all of my treatments. Once radiation stopped that was the harder part. When the burns started to heal it was gooey, flaky, and it stung. But it was no comparison to how chemo was.

Let’s talk about the friends that I made during my radiation appointments. The offices were so gloomy and no one ever talked to each other…until I arrived. I was always the youngest person there. I went to every appointment with an entourage. We made the office a more fun place to be…I hope the other patients were ok with it…if not, OH WELL!!

336 days, from diagnosis to my last day of radiation, I was still able to live a full life. I attended softball games, I continued working and serving tables (except during chemo), I went to theme parks, Vegas, I started exercising again, and I created the memories that I wanted. I spent my time with the people that I love, and that’s what was most important to me.

I tried to stay positive and trust in God’s plan for me and what He wanted to do with my life. I trusted in His will and not my own.

What I want people to take away from my story or journey is that cancer, no matter what kind it is, is not your death ticket. Now I want to help others look past the fear of what cancer looks like in our society, although terrible, there still exists that “silver lining.” Cancer opened my eyes to a new perspective of life. I can now see the positives in all of the negative. Life is short, you’re not promised your next breath. Don’t worry about tomorrow, LIVE for TODAY. These are MY STRIPES.

Comments (18)

  • WOW! I am just starting my journey with this ugly cancer! Found out 3 days after my 47th bday September 24! A day I will never forget. Found out today I have to have a mastectomy…I have fought it the whole time and have had 2 lumpectomies but there is still dcis in my breast so I have no choice now but to have a mastectomy. I am super scared but you give me so much hope! Thanks so much for sharing your story! I know God is control so…

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    • You’ve got this! Don’t lose hope. You’re stronger than you will ever give yourself credit for.

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  • I’m currently going on 4 years cancer free. I was diagnosed with breast cancer 1 month after my grandmother passed away after a long battle with breast cancer. I had a bilateral mastectomy with diep flap reconstruction. I had several hernia surgeries following my initial reconstruction but I’m finally feeling better than ever. I never thought I could be as strong as I was through the whole ordeal.

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    • Thank you Leslie for your example of strength. After going through the procedures that breast cancer entails…hernias added on top of that would be terrible. You’re a warrior! Stay strong and congrats on being cancer free!

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  • I too was diagnosed Sept 29 with triple negative breast cancer with DCIS which were non cancerous. I always wondered how I would react if I was ever told I had cancer. Yes of course, I cried but I think I held up better than most and stayed the most positive. I knew God was watching over me and had a pretty peaceful feeling come over me. I had to have a mastectomy so I opted for a double. I had my surgery Oct 21, the day before my 47th birthday. The best gift I got…finding out it did not go to my lymph nodes! Thank you God!!!! I start chemo on Monday and will have 4 rounds, 1 every 3 weeks. I asked if it was considered a “milder” chemo than what a lot go through and oncologist said yes. I’m a little nervous about how I’ll feel, but I’ll just be counting down each round! I will get implants after chemo. I am like you in the fact that everything is considered a memory to me that I cherish and I now see the beauty in everything!!! Tonight I looked up at the stars and was amazed at how beautiful they looked and just sat and prayed! Thanks for sharing your story and by the way, I have made friends with someone on your friend list who just had her surgery and we talk everyday now! I so delighted that I’ve met new friends from such a horrible disease but blessed that it has brought people together in a positive way!!! P. S. I wasn’t a friend of the drain tubes either and luckily I had one removed after 1 week and the other the next week!!!!

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  • Wօա ʏօʊʀ stօʀʏ sօʊռɖs ɦɛaʀt աʀɛռċɦɨռɢ,քaɨռʄʊʟ, saɖ. Bʊt ɨռ tɦɛ ɛռɖ ʏօʊ աɨռ. Bɛċaʊsɛ Gօɖ ɨs ʊsɨռɢ ʏօʊ ʄօʀ a քօաɛʀʄʊʟ ʍɛssaɢɛ. Lօʋɛ օռɛ aռօtɦɛʀ as աɛ ռɛʋɛʀ ҡռօա աɦɛռ tɦɛ ʟast ɖaʏ աɨʟʟ ɮɛ. Wօա sօʍɛɖaʏ I աօʊʟɖ ʟօʋɛ tօ ʍɛɛt ʏօʊ.ʏօʊ aʀɛ a tʀʊɛ ʍɛssɛռɢɛʀ ʄʀօʍ Gօɖ tɦɛ aʟʍɨɢɦtʏ tɦat ɨʄ ʏօʊ ɦaʋɛ ʄaɨtɦ aռɖ ʟօʋɛ ɨt ċaռ ɮɛ ɮɛat. I tɦɨռҡ aɮօʊt ʍʏ sɨstɛʀ as աɛʟʟ sɦɛ քassɛɖ ɨռ 2002 ɮɛċaʊsɛ օʄ a ҡռօt sɦɛ tɦօʊɢɦt աas ʄɨɮʀօ ċʏst. Wɛʟʟ ɨt աas ռօt sɦɛ աas aʟʀɛaɖʏ ɨռ staɢɛ 4. Bʊt աɛ aʟʟ ɦaɖ ʄaʍɨʟʏ ʄaɨtɦ tօɢɛtɦɛʀ. Tɦaռҡ ʏօʊ sօ ʍʊċɦ ʄօʀ sɦaʀɨռɢ. Gօɖ ɮʟɛss

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    • Faith is so important to me, it is how I got through cancer…especially the harder parts. I’m sorry about your sister, but so glad that your family shares their faith with each other. The strength of family is key, you have to lean on one another during these hard times. Thanks for commenting.

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  • November 13, 2015
    Mindy when I first seen you on fb I got goosebumps and tears and hope for myself my mum and all us fighting to beat cancer . My mum was told she had breast cancer in July this year I held her hand look at both my mother and father and the words u never want to hear my best friend my mum noooo. I was by her side thru two lumpectomies no success now chemo which is so terrible I pray always and she can win this . I felt a lot of breast pain myself and cried can this be possible I must be feeling as my mums pain , I went for mammogram held my husbands hand and the words again noooo I have Breast cancer . My four children came to my mind how can I tell them there mother and granny . A lumpectomy soon followed no success and soon to follow a bilateral mastectomy Oct 28th , it’s been a very emotional time and cancer it touches many lives . I was asked to do a abc documentary from Gillian bartlet to follow my story from hospital thru surgery and to raise awareness I wanted to , it wil be shown across Australia in February next year . Women and staff at Saint John of God hospital were approaching me and booking mamagramms . I held hands with women like myself in hospital and we prayed . Cancer changes your life and we can stay strong and positive . We can beat cancer .thankyou Mindy you gave me strength . Love to all Annie x

    Reply
  • Mindy when I first seen you on fb I got goosebumps and tears and hope for myself my mum and all us fighting to beat cancer . My mum was told she had breast cancer in July this year I held her hand look at both my mother and father and the words u never want to hear my best friend my mum noooo. I was by her side thru two lumpectomies no success now chemo which is so terrible I pray always and she can win this . I felt a lot of breast pain myself and cried can this be possible I must be feeling as my mums pain , I went for mammogram held my husbands hand and the words again noooo I have Breast cancer . My four children came to my mind how can I tell them there mother and granny . A lumpectomy soon followed no success and soon to follow a bilateral mastectomy Oct 28th , it’s been a very emotional time and cancer it touches many lives . I was asked to do a abc documentary from Gillian bartlet to follow my story from hospital thru surgery and to raise awareness I wanted to , it wil be shown across Australia in February next year . Women and staff at Saint John of God hospital were approaching me and booking mamagramms . I held hands with women like myself in hospital and we prayed . Cancer changes your life and we can stay strong and positive . We can beat cancer .thankyou Mindy you gave me strength . Love to all Annie x

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    • Annie i truly have been brought back by your comment. I cant even imagine how much emotion you must feel for your mom, your self and your kiddos. You are going to and have touched so many people, including myself and Tara. You are two types of WARRIOR; one being a warrior for your mom, the other being a warrior fighting your own battle. Stay strong and continue to find the positive in everything. Share God’s love to others as you have been, be a light in this world that can be such a dark place if we allow it. Keep us updated so we can pray alongside you. We maybe miles apart but you are so close to both our hearts. With so much love Tara and MIndy

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  • At 40 I had My double mastectomy. I will be 55 in Feb. Thank U for being a Voice. Yes, yes, it is so much easier to run! God’s Blessings to All.

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    • Gianna you are a WARIOR of 15 years God bless you. Running is so much eaiser with no boobs, I love that you agree with me to that 😉

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  • Thank you for your courage in sharing your story of triumph… thank you for showing females n makes what it looks like to go through this . I pray that this will make people more aware and to take the time to self exam an d to never look at anyone as less then human with love.

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    • Cheryl that is our prayer to simply show others Gods love and to be examples of him in all we do. All woman should never feel less of a woman because of a cancer and scars that show what they have gone through to fight for there lifes. Keep on spreading Gods love…

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  • WOW! I am just starting my journey with this ugly cancer! Found out 3 days after my 47th bday September 24! A day I will never forget. Found out today I have to have a mastectomy…I have fought it the whole time and have had 2 lumpectomies but there is still dcis in my breast so I have no choice now but to have a mastectomy. I am super scared but you give me so much hope! Thanks so much for sharing your story! I know God is control so…💖

    Reply
    • Karrie its just the initial feeling of your boobs not being there that is a little weird, but like everything in life you will get used to it and honestly, lets talk about how much eaiser it is to run!!! Just find the positive in all you do and enjoy life!!! keep us posted and we will be praying for you…youre a WARRIOR

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    • Even we ” flat and sassy ladies'” are stii all women and beautiful.
      Thank you for sharing your story. God bless you.

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      • You’re exactly right!! We are gorgeous!

        Reply

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