On March 15, 2016 I got the call no one wants to get and was told I had Stage 1 Breast Cancer. I will never forget where I was when I got that call! I believe in fate. My 3-year-old daughter saved my life. She was laying on my chest snuggling one cold night in March when I adjusted her head because it was causing me pain and I felt it, a teeny, tiny little round knot up by my under arm. I listened to my instincts and called my gynecologist the next day. I have absolutely no breast cancer in my huge family so was not worried at all and thought it must be a fibroid after “Googling” it. Boy have I learned a lot about breast cancer since then and that 80% of it is sporadic and not genetic!
My Gynecologist also thought it was a fibroid but sent me to get it biopsied just to be safe. Thank God for my amazing Doctor, Dr. Lisa Amsterdam who also helped save my life. Had she not ordered the biopsy right away I would not have had such a good outcome. St. Luke’s East has been amazing through my entire journey. Within a week I was diagnosed and within a month had all my test results back and had a lumpectomy. I then began 4 weeks of radiation with my last treatment on June 6th.
Another angel through my journey was my sister, Jaclyn who texted me words of encouragement and a “quote of the day” along with a “count down” for the number of treatments left as I walked into each radiation session. She lives three hours away and surprised me on my last day of radiation treatment driving to Kansas City to be with me through it.
Breast Cancer has been one of the best and worst things to ever happen to me. It has made me see life through different glasses now. Each day is a gift and I try to make the most of each one of them.
My goal this year was to still be able to climb a 14er (14,000-foot mountain in Colorado) in September with my husband and father in law, which meant I had to continue to train and workout during treatment all summer. Somehow I did it. Each day was a battle, but I managed to go to work and workout. I just completed climbing to the top of Mount Huron on September 7th. It was bittersweet with a lot of crying at the top and hugging my husband, but the sense of accomplishment was overwhelming. The view from the top of a mountain is like no other. It is my heaven on earth and it was a true joy to share the experience with my husband who was my rock this year and always there for me. It took four hours to climb to the top and 2 hours to make it back down. I did it for my mother’s best friend who died of breast cancer at 32, 30 years ago and for every other woman who has climbed this mountain we have all had to climb together.
Janelle pictured here on top of Mount Huron, Colorado