Sara | Colorado
Age: 36
Diagnosis: Stage II Triple Positive Invasive Ductal Carcinoma
Chemotherapy Regimen: Taxotere/Carboplatin/Herceptin/Perjeta (TCHP)
Total Treatments: 6
Infusion Center: UC Health in Colorado Springs, Colorado

I found a lump in my left breast in May of 2022. It took me all of SEVEN months to get the mammogram I asked for. The process included two terrible experiences at two separate medical facilities on Colorado military bases. The second of which being a male doctor telling me it wasn’t breast cancer, I don’t need a mammogram because I’m young, because I have no family history, because insurance may not cover it, because they do more harm than good. The universe was on my side, and something told me to demand the mammogram.

December 16, 2022, two days before my 36th birthday, I received that mammogram. Multiple views later, various ultrasounds, almost thirty emergency biopsies of two masses and three lymph nodes, genetic testing, an MRI, and a PET scan, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Stage II Triple Positive Invasive Ductal Carcinoma to be exact. Meaning the estrogen and progesterone in my body make the cancer grow and the HER2+ mutation decided it was going to make these cells grow at an accelerated and more aggressive rate.

My world as I knew it came to a halt. I remember crying every day for two weeks straight. I was scared, in a constant state of looking for answers to my endless list of questions – and trying to process my diagnosis. My treatment started the following month. Starting with surgery for chemo port placement, followed by weeks of daily injections for IVF, surgery for egg retrieval, six rounds of intense chemotherapy with cold capping, a nipple sparing double mastectomy with stage one reconstruction surgery, stage two reconstruction surgery, another fourteen rounds of a targeted lose dose chemo that I will be receiving every three weeks through April 2024.

I’m sharing this because breast cancer rates are on the rise. Especially in younger women. One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their life and these numbers are unfortunately rapidly changing. Since my diagnosis, I have developed lifelong friendships with two amazing women around the same age as me, also recently diagnosed with breast cancer. Last month, another even younger friend was also diagnosed after finding a lump in her breast. Yet they want to push the yearly mammogram age to 50.

Perform monthly self-breast exams, become familiar with your body and any changes. Feel for lumps, look for rippling, nipple inversion, nipple discharge or blood, redness, swelling or keep an eye out for a dull throbbing pain. If you have dense breasts, a mammogram may not be enough. One of my two tumors didn’t show up on the mammogram, only the MRI. If you feel like something is wrong, be vigilant. If your provider isn’t concerned and you still are, stand up for yourself, demand imaging, additional screenings, or get another opinion. It can save your life. It saved mine.

I had heard about scalp cooling years before I was ever diagnosed and always thought how amazing it was. My wedding was scheduled just a few months after I started treatment and the thought of having no hair or having to wear a wig devastated me. I immediately asked my oncologist about DigniCap it and she put me in contact with their nurse navigator who told me about it.

It takes a village and mine is truly the best. I am now cancer free thanks to my two amazing surgeons and my support system – my husband, family, friends, colleagues, online support groups, and healthcare team who helped navigate and push me through this.

“With the worst behind me, I am so fortunate to feel and look like myself and can move forward without the added stress of hair loss. It’s worth it, don’t give up.”

This journey was hard enough and being able to use DigniCap and keep my hair was a blessing. I did use DigniCap and was able to keep most of my hair. Just thinning but no bald spots. With the worst behind me, I am so fortunate to feel and look like myself and can move forward without the added stress of hair loss.

If I could share one message with others considering DigniCap, it would be: It’s worth it, don’t give up.

There were days when babying my hair was extremely hard and frustrating, but after it’s all said and done, I am so grateful and blessed to have a full head of hair after my chemo treatments. It has allowed me to still look and feel like myself while going through the hardest time of my life. I have even told two friends, also with breast cancer, about DigniCap and they are both actively using it.