Courage Through Breast Cancer and a Double Mastectomy

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Every story is different and hers is nothing short of inspirational. She tells her story about her journey through a double mastectomy from the day she heard the words that would change her life: Breast Cancer.

“I didn’t have any of the classic symptoms. I was on vacation when spots appeared in my bra. I didn’t think anything of it until a few days later; I was changing at home and saw the blood again. I had a lot of important things to do that day so I googled on the go – The first thing that came up was breast cancer.”

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“The scariest thing is I’ve always done my own breast exams. I never felt a lump, even my doctor didn’t when I went in with the nipple discharge. I got lucky I had that, as well as a great diagnostician; Dr. Seely at the Breast Health Centre. While I was getting my mammogram, the nurse assured me that they were quick and that I would likely get my results within a day or two. I had to go for some more tests after my mammogram and by the time I came out, they had already booked me for another mammogram. I knew something was wrong then. By the time they were done with the second one, the doctor was able to tell me what type of cancer they thought I had without even doing a biopsy.”

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“The 1st needle biopsy in December 2015 was DCIS Ductal carcinoma in situ. I was given many options of treatment such as lumpectomy and mastectomy. I didn’t want to hear about lumpectomies, I told them to just take both breasts even though I only had cancer in one. The pathology once they removed my breast in February showed 5 tumors. The largest was just under a centimeter and it had spread to the ducts making it – IDC invasive Ductal Carcinoma. And then there was a micro mastitis to my lymph nodes which was found with the sentinel lymph node biopsy. 2/3 of women who are diagnosed with IDC are 55 or over – I’m 37. ”

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 “But you can say I’m 28, that’s ok too.”
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“I’m not scared, no. I mean, sure it was scary going under the knife. I didn’t know how I would look and feel afterwards. It was scary until the bandages came off and I saw them for the first time. That’s when I realized that I was still me! I had a really skilled surgeon. I actually love how I look without breasts! I really like not having them – they don’t get in the way and I can wear any shirt and look great in it!”

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“I’m eventually going for reconstruction surgery. The scars will be removed and I plan to get some beautiful tattoos.”

-“Will you get nipple tattoos?”

“Ha-ha! No. I have these silicone nipples though. They’re covered by insurance and look super weird.”

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“I’m not like other women my age. My friends go out and have fun, have children… My body tried to kill me – it’s hard to find women my age that can relate to that.”

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“I’m lucky to have such an amazing husband. He’s my rock. I couldn’t get through this without him.”

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The dogs showed all their affections during the shoot.

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“I just got the call that I don’t have to do chemo after all!”

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“Can you get a photo of my hair? I had it done when I thought I was going to lose it all.”

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And finally, the words she wrote to me that struck me to my core. She is truly the most amazing warrior I have ever met.

“I was terrified and so angry before going for the surgery- that I had to have my body scarred for life by the cancer. It was the most horrible thing, your actual cells trying to kill you – it was so hard.
I want as many people as possible to see these pictures because I want them to know it’s ok, and can be ok, like even better than ok. It’s what I’m trying to take from cancer. I want as many people as possible to know that it’s not all bad, that even if you don’t have control it doesn’t mean you’re powerless, that in the end you’re actually more beautiful than before because you survived. That’s what meeting the women in the support group taught me, and what my surgeon is giving me. I’m blessed to have met them so I have to be grateful to cancer because I wouldn’t have otherwise. Not the journey I had planned for my life but it’s an OK one.
I want women to know that breasts don’t make them women. There is so much more to being a woman than that. I want society to know that cancer doesn’t have to be about death – it can be a story of survival and strength. Mine is.”

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Thank you, Jenn, for your incredible bravery in sharing this story and photos. Your spirit is a force to be reckoned with.

All my love to you

Laura Lo
Laura Lo Photography


4 responses to “Courage Through Breast Cancer and a Double Mastectomy”

  1. Susa Hall says:

    Incredible story of courage and incredible photos of a story of courage. These pictures and the story brought me to tears by the absolute beauty of it all. Breast cancer doesn’t win…Jenn wins with her bravery!

  2. Ingrid Van Dusen says:

    I am so proud of you Jenn, you are a very special person. This is very powerful and I’m very grateful that you shared it with us.
    Laura, the photographs are beautiful !

  3. Cindy Van Dusen says:

    You are absolutely incredible and beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Susie says:

    Absolutely beautiful. Your bravery and attitude is inspiring. We love you Jenn. Beautiful work as always Laura. You should both be extremely proud. So very touching to everyone who you have shared this with.

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