Let me first start off by saying, I admire women who refuse to be victims and boldly choose to be victorious over their own circumstances. Which is why for the month of October, I have decided to feature guest blog posts from breast cancer survivors. This is one way that I feel I can use my platform to bring about awareness. Click here
for some ways you can “think pink” to support breast cancer awareness as well. My goal is to empower women to break free from their fears and conquer whatever their heart desires. And I am honored to introduce these great women to you.
Name: Jaymee Wins (my blogger name)
Age Diagnosed: 37
Age Now: 38
What stage were you diagnosed with?
I was diagnosed with stage 2a breast cancer on the left side, ER positive, HER 2 negative.
How was the cancer initially detected?
I detected it by doing a breast self-exam in the shower. I felt a lump with the size of a marble that has a gummy bear-like texture. It wasn’t there before. I immediately looked for a clinic that can check it for me and booked the nearest available day and time. One test led to another and the rest was history.
How did you feel when you first received the news?
I’m naturally an optimistic person so it didn’t sink in completely when I received the diagnosis. I thought, “It’s early stage. I’m sure it’s just a minor surgery that involves taking out the tumor in my breast and it’s all done.” I convinced myself that that was it so I was just calm and collected at that time. It only hit me hard when my medical team told me that my treatment plan involves chemotherapy. I vented out with a friend who was with me that time, drove myself near the beach, parked and broke down really hard while asking God, “Why me?”. When I got tired of crying, I went home, told my mom and best friends about it and went to sleep. The next day, I felt better but of course, it was never the same.
Is there a family history of breast cancer?
Yes, from my dad’s side. My dad’s mother (my grandma) and his two sisters (my aunts) all had breast cancer. My aunts have gone through treatment and are still alive and thriving until this day. My BRCA testing came out negative though so I can’t really say if my family history had a contribution to my diagnosis.
Did you have a support network? If not, how did you overcome it or find it?
My immediate family are all in the Philippines so my care and support came from best friends in San Diego and the rest who flew from different parts of the US. I am very blessed to have amazing friends who went out of their way to contribute to my survival. The UCSD Moores Cancer Center also helped me source out support through their social worker, activities that lets you meet other breast cancer patients, and recommending websites that let’s you pair up with a peer navigator or groups to get involved with.
Tell me about your treatment process.
I did 10 rounds of chemotherapy every 2 weeks that started January 2017. I took part in a clinical trial so the first 6 rounds was with a drug called Irinotecan along with oral chemo pills called Talazoparib. Then the last 4 rounds was the standard chemotherapy called Adriamycin Cytoxan or AC. After that, I had a lumpectomy then followed by 30 rounds of radiation that ended September 27. I will start my anti-hormonal treatment by November and that will be for 5 years.
Were there any programs or services offered to you that would help with the treatment process?
Holistic approaches such as acupuncture and massages compliment the standard treatment so that really helped me a lot especially during chemotherapy. Programs such as “Feel Good, Look Better” also boosts self-esteem and is a great way to meet other women going through treatment. “Immerman Angels” was also offered by my social worker that lets you pair up with a breast cancer survivor peer navigator of your preference. This added up to my emotional support.
Did you face any obstacles during your treatment process? If so, how did you overcome these obstacles?
My huge obstacle was not having my immediate family with me. I just really had to reach out, allowed myself to be taken cared of by others and be very vocal about my needs to good friends who were willing to help me get through it. I also had complication in my lungs while going through chemotherapy. I was lucky that it was prevented from getting worse and eventually got cured. Big factor was being in tuned with my body and reporting anything that doesn’t feel right to my medical team.
My cancer survivor inspirations are Kylie Minogue, metastatic breast cancer blogger Nalie Agustin, cancer blogger Stephanie Madsen and Filipina singer Joey Albert. My spiritual inspirations are Nick Vujicic and Joel Osteen.
Advice to new patients:
Breath. Take it one day at a time. Find happiness in simple things. Be very vocal with your needs. Love and take care of yourself much much more. Feel what you need to feel. Eat healthy. Move around when you can. Stay mentally productive even in little ways. Share your thoughts, feelings and story to people you feel comfortable with. Nurture your relationships. Keep the hope alive in your heart.
How you’ve changed:
I’ve definitely changed for the better after this experience. I’ve matured. I feel reborn so I no longer sweat on the small stuff. I’ve become more appreciative of little things such as a sunny day and spending quality time with loved ones. I also realized how important relationships are and value them much much more. I’m able to identify what I want in my life and what truly gives me joy. I got to know myself and built a stronger character. I’ve also grown a lot spiritually and have a newfound appreciation for life.
What you’re proud of:
I’m very proud of all the people who contributed to my survivorship. That includes the UCSD medical team, family, friends, fellow cancer thrivers and social media followers who never stopped supporting my strong will to live. I’m also proud of myself for not giving up and constantly maintaining the winning mentality.
What you wish everyone knew:
I wish the world knows that there is still life during and after cancer. That diagnosed people want to be treated normal and not be pitied or be felt different. That we don’t want to talk about cancer all the time because it’s only a part of our experience but that’s not entirely what were made of. That life is a gift and a privilege so we should celebrate it and not take it for granted. And that happiness is really a conscious choice.
In what way can readers support breast cancer efforts:
A simple act such as following, liking or leaving a nice comment to a breast cancer blogger going through the “hard” treatment can already brighten someone’s day. Sharing breast cancer stories or articles through social media can also spread awareness. And most importantly, checking websites of breast cancer organizations to get involved, volunteer and sign up for events make a huge difference.
Jaymee is a social media blogger, motivational speaker, and now breast cancer survivor who resides in San Diego, CA. She uses her platform and WINNING outlook on life to bring smiles, tears, realizations, motivation, and awareness to others. Please follow her on her journey at www.jaymeewins.com and Instagram @jaymee_wins.