#SceneGirl Survivor - Lauren
LLScene is truly humbled to feature such an inspirational #SceneGirl during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. One of the most important parts about Lauren’s story is the fact that she had no family history of breast or ovarian cancer, and that she was 25 years old when she was diagnosed. We hope Lauren’s story motivates all of the beautiful women of our young age demographic to get screened and take necessary precautions if something doesn’t seem right with your body or breast health. This has personally made an impact on our lives, and we hope it can do the same for all of you. Don’t ever let a doctor, or anyone else tell you that you’re too young. Here is Lauren's story...
As a 25-year-old health and fitness freak, the last thing I thought was “cancer” when I felt a nagging pain in my left breast. I noticed it first when doing burpees in the 2013 CrossFit Open. I figured it was just muscle related but made an appointment to be safe. The doctor did a breast exam but told me I was too young and had nothing to worry about. After a month of consistent pain, I went back to the doctor and was again told that I was too young. Thankfully, I also got a tetanus shot on that day and an ensuing allergic reaction to it. This sent me to a third doctor who finally took me seriously when I mentioned the breast pain in passing. She was sure it was just a cyst but just to make me happy (and probably shut me up!), she wrote me an order for an ultrasound, which then led to a biopsy on the same day.
Everyone I spoke to at the hospital said they were 99% sure it was nothing and they’d call me back with results in a week. I knew something was wrong when the radiologist called me the next morning asking me a series of questions, like where I was, who I was with, if I was in a good place to talk; my heart dropping with each one. I’ll never forget her exact words: “We are floored, but you have cancer”. I completely blacked out after that. In my naïve mind, this was it. She had just given me a death sentence at 25. Little did I know how much it would change my life for the better.
Soon after, I found out it was aggressive and I’d need to start chemo immediately followed by a bilateral mastectomy, reconstruction, a year of infusions, and 10 years of preventative medication. It was a lot to take in at first but I realized I had two choices. I could let cancer take over my life, feel bad for myself, and wait until it was all over to be happy again. Or I could be thankful that I caught it early, continue to do everything I loved as much as I possibly could, and appreciate the journey that would mold me into the person I am today. I decided to go with the latter. My body may have been getting beat down, but I was still doing CrossFit; still going to concerts and football games two days after chemo; and enjoying as normal of a life as I possibly could.
There’s nothing pretty or glamorous about breast cancer. It’s physically and emotionally taxing and takes too many too soon. But it’s the best thing that could have ever happened to me. Cancer changed my mindset and appreciation for everything that I used to take for granted. To this day, it’s really hard to complain about anything and so much easier to just be thankful. Thankful that I’ve met so many amazing people through this journey; thankful for a strengthened faith and a joy and peace I’d never experienced before; and ultimately thankful that my life was saved. The support I received from family, friends, and strangers was completely humbling and it really makes you realize how loved you truly are.