My breast cancer story: Learning to “just roll with it”

Never did I think I would hear those words. “You have cancer.”

Nope, not me! I am the person who takes care of everyone else. I am a 41-year-old momma with three kiddos and I was working full-time in retail. Plus, I was busy with our kids’ afterschool activities. I didn’t have time for cancer.

But on March 27, 2020, my whole world changed.

It all started in February with a trip to the emergency room for shortness of breath. To my shock, the doctors there told me I had a lump in my breast. After visiting my primary care physician, a biopsy confirmed our worst fear — it was breast cancer.

There’s no point in getting mad. Life is short and you never know what it’s going to throw at you, so we’re just rolling with it.

A few days later, I met with my oncologist who explained my breast cancer diagnosis. I was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma, the most common type of breast cancer. She explained what our game plan included and most importantly, that it is treatable. First up was chemotherapy, then a double mastectomy, hysterectomy and, most likely, radiation.

I said, “Okay, let’s go for it!” And we did.

I also met my breast surgeon, Lucy Wallace, MD, who explained in great detail about my cancer and different surgery options. With her guidance and my family’s support, I made the decision to have a double mastectomy after I finished chemotherapy.

I wasn’t able to have anyone with me during my chemo treatments because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but my care team and my husband, mom and three kids have been the best support system I could ask for.

On August 26th, I had my double mastectomy and I would do it all over again. I had 100 percent confidence in my care team and in Dr. Wallace, who has been wonderful taking care of me. She also referred me to all the other specialists I need to help recover and get back to my life, including a physical therapist, radiologist, gynecologist and plastic surgeon.

It makes this journey easier for me knowing I can have full confidence in my doctors and surgeons. I knew they were there for me to help me get through this.

My motto since the beginning was this: I’m just going to roll with it and do whatever I need to do. It is okay if I have a bad day — I just need to pick myself up and roll with it! There’s no point in getting mad. Life is short and you never know what it’s going to throw at you, so we’re just rolling with it.

Today, I’m feeling great. I’m so grateful to be halfway through my journey and taking it one day at a time, living my life and enjoying my family. Whatever life throws at us, I know even on the worst days, it’s going to be okay.

Find out how you can help make stories like Sylvia’s possible by supporting breast cancer research.

This story was contributed by Sylvia Mendez, breast cancer survivor.

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My breast cancer story: Learning to “just roll with it”