29 with Breast Cancer

Most recently, a customer, @mybreastielife posted on Instagram sharing her blog feature by @everydayvogue. Naturally, we knew we had to read Colleen Madelmayer's article of a bright, vibrant young adult and her new fight with breast cancer. We quickly, became moved by her experience, strength and most importantly, inner beauty. It was then we decided to share Colleen's story with our Follea Community. Feel free to share with anyone who is struggling with cancer and looking to wrap themselves around a group of strong, like-minded people.

The full article below is written by Colleen’s friend and advocate blogger, Persphone Maglaya.

Picture this. You are an athlete, you eat right, just got back from your honeymoon with the love of your life when you find out you have breast cancer. Pick your jaw up off the floor and know this isn’t a Lifetime movie, but instead the reality of my beautiful friend Colleen Madelmayer {aka @mybreastielife and her husband Rob {aka Roman’s Godfather}. I’m shifting gears this week to shine light on Colleen’s story. I visited her a few months ago and lived a day in her life – going to chemo, understanding her new challenges and talking about the real ugly, painful shit that comes with having breast cancer and I couldn’t imagine not sharing this with you. She is the epitome of what courage and strength is, in truly the most trying of times. I also want to make it crystal clear that this isn’t a story designed to make you feel sorry, but rather to give you perspective; among life’s challenges there is strength and the ability to persevere with positivity, grace and love. 

Here's Colleen's Story:

On August 24, 2018 I got a call that would change my life forever. I had gone to my gynecologist about a week prior and brought up a concern I had regarding a small, pea-sized lump I felt on the underside of my left breast. The gynecologist referred me to a cancer specialist who did an ultrasound and thought it looked suspicious, so she requested I come back the very next day for additional testing (a mammogram and biopsy). I went back, did the testing, and a few days passed by while I waited for the results. Being 29, healthy, and happy I honestly wasn’t even stressing it…I was more annoyed about having to take off last minute from work than I was about the potential diagnosis. At the end of the week, on Friday afternoon, the cancer specialist called. She calmly told me the results came back and confirmed I have stage 2 breast cancer and that it had spread to my ancillary lymph nodes.

I hung up, stunned, then burst into tears. I knew my life was about to change dramatically as I endure the physical and emotional turmoil of a cancer diagnosis. “Why me?!” thoughts were consuming my mind. It was on this day that I quickly and undeniably became the 1 in 8 figure we all hear about:

"Breast cancer with affect 1 in 8 women in the U.S.

In the beginning of my journey, right after my diagnosis, I felt like I was inferior. I had a lot of guilt, despite the fact that this was not in my control. I was embarrassed that this was happening to me. Mentally, it was one of the toughest things I’ve ever had to go through. I was desperate to connect with other people whose worlds had also been tipped upside down. I found solace in reading their stories and was inspired to uncover my own strength to share my journey. It took me a while to muster up the courage but being totally real on my new IG page @mybreastielife has been incredibly liberating.

So, this is the new me. Rocking my gorgeous blonde Follea wig and also bald with some fuzzies. The can’t miss baldness is only part of the physical toll cancer can have on someone. I also have dark circles under my eyes, my eyelashes are gone and my eyebrows are hanging on for dear life, I’m weak, I’m pale, and I’m tired. I have a port semi-permanently placed in my chest to make the weekly infusions just a little bit easier. To be honest, sometimes I don’t even recognize myself. Some days it’s hard to walk past a mirror and actually want to look. It feels like this cancer has stripped me of my identity. There are so many things about cancer that no one told me about, things that I used to love! For example, my husband and I used to go on weekly sushi date which we can no longer do, I was unable to fly home for the holidays to see my family, and I can no longer go out to get a facial or get my nails done with girlfriends – all because of the increased risk of infection. I share the bad to be honest, but despite the current circumstance, I’m confident I will come out on the other side stronger and with more determination than I’ve ever had before.


Everyday I think about how grateful I am for all the women who came before me and paved the way, making my path a little easier. You too, can ensure your path is easier. I felt a bump at home and brought it up to my doctor, but if I hadn’t felt it, there’s a possibility it wouldn’t have been caught until I was 40 years old, when mammogram screenings begin for women. So, please do what you can to prevent this to happening from you. Cancer is a bitch and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.

How to Detect Breast Cancer

Together we can eliminate the taboo and encourage one another to know our bodies and our risks. Early detection is key, so I challenge you to try these three things:

1. Know how your breasts feel normally. If you notice any changes, talk to your doctor. It doesn’t have to be a bump – could be swelling, skin irritation, or dimpling.

2. Know your risk. If you’ve had a family member with breast cancer, tell your doctor. Some women with high risk may be recommended for early screening mammograms or MRIs.

3. Try an online risk calculator or app. The Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium has a risk calculator that can help women determine their chances of developing invasive breast cancer.

 

 

I wanted to end with a picture of Colleen with her husband Rob and something he said best – this is just a chapter in their lives together, and will not define her. However, it was so important for me to share this with you because as women we MUST be proactive and not bury our heads or ignore hereditary precursors. Get a f-ing mammogram. This isn’t that hard and it really doesn’t hurt. Who cares about a few moments of discomfort for peace of mind or dealing with the issue head-on. Just do it.

Please share this with someone who it will uplift, inspire or educate for Colleen is our {my whole family included} real-life warrior.

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