Rebecca has an infectious personality. She’s warm and friendly, energetic and sweet. She got a mammogram every year, knowing the importance of early detection. One day, though, she noticed something unusual.
Receiving a shocking diagnosis
She shares, “I found the lumps myself last year. I came to get the diagnostic mammogram, and it showed breast cancer. Through testing and biopsies, I learned I have triple-negative breast cancer.”
Triple-negative breast cancer refers to the fact that the cancer cells don’t have estrogen or progesterone receptors. Triple-negative differs from other types of invasive breast cancer in that it tends to grow and spread faster, has fewer treatment options, and tends to have a worse outcome (cancer.org).
With the guidance of her Oncologist/Hematologist Dr. Minhas, Rebecca received chemotherapy treatment for five months, she got a double mastectomy in January, and then she began radiation treatment. “The nurses at the infusion clinic have a special calling on them because they are always cheerful. There’s so much devastation with this diagnosis, and they are phenomenal at cheering people up. Everybody is happy to be here and be at work.”
“Whether I live or whether I die, I’m going to win.”
Rebecca adds, “Both of my parents died of cancer – different cancers. I have no mark, no gene, and I never thought that I would get it. Being through that, I was able to accept the diagnosis and realize that I do want to fight. With triple-negative, you have to throw everything – including the kitchen sink – at it, and that’s what we have been doing.”
“I know there are people behind me holding me up when I can’t hold myself up.”
“My strength first and foremost comes from God. My husband, my family, my church family, and my friends are praying for me and encouraging me, sending me texts, emails, and calling me. That strengthens me. We’ve had a lot of help and a lot of love, and that’s where my strength comes from”
Rebecca shares, “Even if you don’t have friends or family nearby, you can still find support. There are Facebook groups or in-person support groups available, and I highly recommend people get support.”
Memorial’s Living with Cancer Support Group is for anyone affected by cancer to have an opportunity to share their experiences.
Choosing care close to home
“My care at Memorial has been amazing. Every nurse, every doctor, everywhere I go, you can tell everyone wants to be here. When I got diagnosed, we prayed for the team that would get me through this, and that team is here at Memorial.”
She adds, “Dr. Minhas is phenomenal. He has such an awesome bedside manner, which is so important. With this diagnosis, you need somebody who cares. When I sit in his office, he is not in a rush to get out of that door. I’m not just a number to him; he is somebody that wants to give that extra care to his patients.”
On the convenience of having comprehensive cancer services on the Coast, Rebecca says, “My mom went through ovarian cancer in the ‘80s, and we had to drive three hours to Jackson for her treatment every week. It was a lot. I remember her being so sick after treatment and how hard of a drive it was. With Memorial having the Cancer Center, I don’t have to go through that. I have been able to drive myself to every treatment because we have this amazing Cancer Center right here in Gulfport.”
“Your life is worth going to get checked.”
When asked what she would tell someone who was hesitant about getting screened, she says, “With me being a planner, I don’t understand how someone doesn’t want to know if something is wrong. If you don’t get your mammograms or yearly checkups, you don’t know. With triple-negative, if I would have waited, it would have been too late. I’m expecting to live long and prosper.”
Rebecca adds, “You know your body more than anybody, and you know if something is off. Just go get checked. You’re worth it.”
To learn more about Memorial Cancer Center and to find discounts for mammograms and bone density scans, click here.