“You can do hard things”.
We will share the story of Ashley Saaranen who is currently fighting stage 3 breast cancer.
“I was diagnosed on June 11 with DCIS and then during my double mastectomy on July 18, it was found to be more invasive. I went from a DCIS diagnosis to a stage III immediately”.
“Where do I start? I was training for a marathon and noticed pain and discomfort in my left breast. I went to my primary care doctor who referred me to our breast center. I had a mammogram and ultrasound and they said the dense tissue looked inflamed and treated me with antibiotics thinking it could be mastitis since I had recently stopped nursing. I ended up having an allergic reaction after I finished the antibiotic and the ER doctor told me to go get my breast checked out again.
I went back and had another ultrasound and mammogram where they said it still looked like dense tissue but wanted to do a biopsy to make sure. I had my biopsy on June 7, and on June 11 I got the phone call that changed my life. It was cancer. They said it was the earliest stage and diagnosed me with DCIS.
I met with my surgeon and plastic surgeon that week and they both gave me the okay to run my marathon that weekend. It was so emotional but we did it!! My husband ran it with me and helped me every step of the way. We then got to go on our family vacation to North Carolina before my surgery was scheduled. Then on July 18 I went back for my double mastectomy with reconstruction. My surgeon was shocked to see the cancer had spread through my lymph nodes.
He ended up removing 32 and cancer was in 11 of them. I then had to do a PET scan where thankfully there wasn’t any more evidence of cancer! I also found out that while my cancer was ER/PR negative it was HER2 positive so they would be able to fight the cancer with Herceptin and Perjeta. I also would be doing chemo and radiation. I got my port placed on August 9 and started chemo on August 13! I go in every three weeks for 6 total times. I finished up my chemo on November 26! I will be waiting for 3 weeks before starting radiation. I’m so happy that I’m nearing the end of my journey!”
“Feeling like I can’t be a normal mom or wife or teacher. It’s hard to feel yucky when all you want to do is normal stuff”.
Motivation to fight cancer
“Oh, my goodness. My amazing family. I have a wonderful husband and 3 kiddos… Georgia is 6, Charlie is 4 and Sophie is almost 2! My incredible friend and support system. My school. I teach 2nd grade part time and my job share partner and my class has been such an incredible source of inspiration for me through this whole thing!”
Message to other Fighters
“This is temporary. And even though it is hard and it stinks and you know what, it’s not fair… you will get through this!! You will. And you are going to love the new you even if it’s different than the old you!”