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Saturday April 13, 2024

Jessica Waller


“Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength” – Mahatma Gandhi

I was diagnosed with breast cancer on March 1, 2021 at the age of 31. My kids were 3 and 5. I started having symptoms of breast cancer in March 2019. I was having discharge from right breast and thought it was related to nursing because I had just finished breast feeding 4 months prior. I had appointment after appointment with my doctor because the color and texture of the discharge kept changing. My gut was telling me something was wrong, but my doctor was dismissing the situation because of my age and lack of family history. In February 2021, I decided to advocate for myself and demanded a diagnostic mammogram. My life forever changed on February 25, 2021. I had two biopsies that day, although I did not receive my official diagnosis until March 1, I knew it was cancer that day. I began my marathon of appointments on March 3. My original diagnosis was Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS-Stage 0). I had a single mastectomy on March 18 and pathology from that revealed that my cancer was invasive (IDC Stage 1B). I transferred my care to Duke and began my journey. I completed 6 rounds of chemo, 18 rounds of immunotherapy, 30 rounds of radiation, a lymphadenectomy, and a prophylactic mastectomy. I was declared No Evidence of Disease (NED) on August 31, 2021. My breast cancer was hormone positive, so I still receive a shot monthly and take daily medication to keep me in medically induced menopause.

Cancer was the hardest thing I have ever experienced, and I still suffer from side effects from treatment and my daily medications. My quote while going through treatment was, “You can do hard things.” I was determined then and I am still determined that my diagnosis will not define me or limit me. My journey with BC has given me the opportunity to witness to and help other women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. It also made me realize how much I am cared about, how strong I am, and most importantly, it strengthened my relationship with God. In life we will go through more than we can handle on our own, so I am so thankful that we serve a God who will never leave us nor forsake us. “The Lord will Fight for You; You Need Only to Be Still” (Exodus 14:14).

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