Introducing Jen Tassi who is 37 years old and lives in Lewis Center, OH. She loves to spend time with her husband Pete and 15 month old daughter Briana. She also loves to hang out with friends, being outdoors, playing recreational volleyball and group fitness.
When did you get diagnosed with breast cancer? How old were you?
I was diagnosed with breast cancer in October of 2016 at the age of 36, 2 days after my daughter’s 6 month birthday. My story is a trust your gut experience, if I hadn’t pushed for a biopsy my story may have been different.
What type of breast cancer were you diagnosed with and what was your treatment?
I was diagnosed with stage 2 IDC ER+ and HER2+. Because I was breastfeeding at the time I did chemo first. I started in November 2016 with 4 rounds of AC followed by 12 rounds of Taxol with Herceptin and Perjeta. In May I had a bilateral mastectomy. While the chemo significantly shrunk the tumor, weaning quickly also shrunk my boobs…So there was no way to get clear margins without taking a significant amount of tissue. I opted for the double for a few reasons, symmetry at the
time of reconstruction as well as not having to deal with scans of only one breast. On August 4th I had my exchange surgery to implants. Also a few months ago I started the hormone therapy of Zoladex and Exemestane and will continue to get Herceptin until January 2018.
Who inspires you today and inspired you to not give up hope when you were fighting cancer?
During treatment I had an amazing support system of family, friends and coworkers. It was in a way a blessing that my daughter was so young, it forced me to focus on her and just be her mommy. My husband was rockstar throughout treatment, I don’t know what I would have done without him. I learned that different people played different roles for me…there were the people that I could cry to and talk about my fears, there were the people who were F Cancer…cancer sucks…these people didn’t talk about cancer at all…which I needed at times. Then there was my gym family, they were a huge support system, I exercised all throughout treatment and I think that was huge in curbing side effects.
Today fellow survivors inspire me and if I am being completely honest…. I inspire me. A fellow survivor told me in the beginning that cancer will make you a better person. At the time I
thought yeah right!! Turns out he was right, I have come out of this as a far better version of myself. I am more caring and compassionate, more free spirited…I have learned to let go of things that I may have otherwise held onto. You learn to appreciate the little things in life and every single day, even the ones that don’t go as planned. You start to help others on this journey know that there is a light on the other side of their darkness. You become stronger than you ever dreamed you could be because you have experienced fear like no other you have faced before. When I look at all that I have gone through and all that I have accomplished I am proud of myself. I am one bad ass chick!
What advice or encouragement do you have for someone still going through treatment or has a loved one going through it?
It gets better… I promise. There are good days and bad days through treatment, but when you get through it those are the amazing days…celebrate them and each milestone that you make throughout the process. I did and it was great…sometimes it was as simple as a cupcake with a candle and I’d make a wish. Sometimes it was bigger…at the end of chemo we threw a party and I burned chemo and cancer related things in our fire pit. Nothing is more therapeutic that setting stuff on fire! Well for me anyway! Find the things that you love to do
and focus on them. Let treatment days be a time to spend quality time with people that you may not get to see. My husband, mom and I would play cards every treatment, strangely it was fun. Talk to people who are ahead of you in treatment…it helps to talk to those who have gone through what you are going through.
We were so happy to feature Jen this week. Share your story today and become the next Feature Friday!