Erin’s Fight by Erin Giammarco

It hasn’t even been a year, and I’ve gone through so much. It’s crazy to think about. I found my lump in the shower one day. I asked my husband to feel and confirm I was really feeling what I was. I had a gut feeling it wasn’t ok. I’m very proactive about doctor appointment and self-care, so I called the next day. It was time to find a new gynecologist anyway, as mine had recently retired. She seemed to think it was a fibroadenoma, and told me not to worry, but the next steps were already in the process.

Next up, biopsy. I kept hoping her “no need to worry” words would magically deliver me good news. Of course, that’s not the way things turned out. The lump in my right breast was indeed Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. CARCINOMA, wait that’s cancer right!? My body sunk into the floor as I read the words in the “My Chart” portal. Yes, I saw it before the doctor even called. Luckily there was no lymph node involvement. What began next was an out of body experience. Now, I existed in a thick fog, and old Erin was gone, forever.

I did genetic testing, and learned I have a gene mutation called CHEK2, which is likely the culprit for the aggressive tumor that decided to make a home in my body. I had triple-negative breast cancer and needed to start treatment asap. I had 16 rounds of chemotherapy. Cocktails of Carbo/Taxol followed by A/C. Every three weeks I received immunotherapy Keytruda as well. It was a tough go, but I managed side effects well, all while imagining the tumor dying! The MRI showed towards the end of treatment that the drugs did just that. I had another much smaller second tumor, and both were demolished!

Next on the agenda, surgery. I had a double mastectomy. My amazing surgeon was able to report I received complete pathological response. I was NED (No Evidence of Disease)! I then had implant reconstruction. I will also have nine Immunotherapy infusions. I’m choosing to have a DIEP flap reconstruction in the future.

I was diagnosed with cancer on September 10, 2022, at the age of 38. A day that forever changed my life, changed me as a person. This journey will never be over. It’s painful, it’s hopeful, there have been countless kindnesses, and I’m thankful to so many for helping me through. Now onward, stay away CANCER, you’re not welcome here.

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