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Paige DeRogatis (Breast Cancer Survivor)

Paige DeRogatis (Breast Cancer Survivor)

The Diagnosis

I was diagnosed with breast cancer in May, 2020, after I had found a lump in my breast. I visited my doctor; they did the physical examination and the biopsy; then they staged me at about two or three. They communicated that they wouldn't get an accurate staging diagnosis until during the surgery when they could actually see the physical mass.   

When I observed a lump the size of a ping-pong ball in my breast, it concerned me a little bit because cancer ran in my family. I had lost my mom, two aunts, a grandmother, and a maternal grandmother because of breast cancer. So I thought this might happen to me, but I didn't think I would get it at the age of 28! 

I was studying at a friend's house when my doctor called me and said, “I am sorry to inform you but we have found cancer cells in the results of your diagnosis.” I felt devastated! I was in shock!! I didn't really know how to handle it, so I called my friend and she helped me process through all of it. She helped me make the phone calls and coached me through what I would say with my family.

The Treatment

I went through six rounds of chemotherapy and I had about just different chemotherapy drugs taxation carboplatin and another one I forgot, but this breast cancer was triple positive, and it was hormone positive. Therefore, my doctor created a particular treatment plan and it was six rounds of chemotherapy every three weeks. I would go in and get the infusion

I actually wanted to try alternative treatments. There was one point when I told my family I didn’t want to do chemo. I was a strong believer of God and I thought he might just heal me without a treatment; but my family got really upset at this. I had people telling me if I did alternative therapy I was going to die. Then I decided to go for the chemo.

How I dealt with the side effects

I knew that I was going to lose my hair; I used to have really long hair, so this concerned me greatly. Also one of the things that I was really worried about was they told me that my fertility would be affected. I had one daughter and wanted to plan for more kids. I prayed about it and I believed strongly that if it was God's will to bless me with another child in the future, I would get my periods back. And I actually did get my menstrual cycle back, but during the treatment I didn't get my cycle for several months.

I did feel nausea but I wasn't vomiting. I still was able to eat and I kept my weight at just what it was supposed to be at, and, I thank God for that. It was my faith in God which kept me going. I just knew that everything would be okay. Honestly speaking, I had to cut off everybody who was talking negatively in my life or started to worry about whether I was going to die. I just had to get space from them and set boundaries because I needed to just fill my mind with positivity and faith. I wasn't even watching the news because at the time the news was so negative with COVID and everything else related to it.

Managing emotional well-being

During those times I would read the bible; I would listen to worship music; I would basically get up and do what I was normally doing. I was very active in church and I would still go and wouldn't stop doing them just because of my diagnosis. I kept going; I kept serving in the house of God; I kept ministering to people, and I kept praying and surrounding myself with positive people that were going to push me like my roommate. If I wanted to just stay at home and be depressed in my bed, she would say no, we're going to church or to this event because she knew that it would help me get up and move my body. 

Many people say that we don't require a support system and I can do it all on my own but we all know that we do need a support system, be it visiting the oncologist, or going for a treatment, or be it when you are at home and you are going to chemo or radiation. Women at church were my primary support system, and I did have a friend and my roommate and many other people God sent for me. My family doesn’t stay in town, but my aunt would drive three hours just to see me and she would rent out an airbnb and bring my dad and my daughter and other family members and they would just come and spend that evening with me because they knew how hard each chemo treatment was.

Message to other cancer patients and caregiver

Stay positive; stay in faith; don't stop doing what you love to do and give the people around you grace because they're going through a whirlwind of emotions. They do care about you, sometimes when stuff like this happens and emotions tend to rise and fall, and so keep them informed, but also learn to set boundaries. 

Whenever I got the thoughts that I was going to die or I was not going to be healed, I would just say no and that's what helped me get through. To be honest, sometimes I do get thoughts of fear that it's going to come back, but I don't receive that and I try not to listen to anyone else saying that. I believe that I am going to be cancer free!

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