Sarah’s Breast Cancer Story


Sarah Pascual: Hi, my name is Sarah and I
am currently a breast cancer survivor, but I want to start from the beginning and tell
you my story. I was 27 working part time as a waitress, going to nursing school full time,
and I was currently practicing for a volleyball tournament from a church. I was very active.
I used to ride and work out everyday before or after school or before or after work, was
also swimmer and in August 2012 one day after playing volleyball and swimming, I was in
the shower and I felt something that I had never felt before. As a nursing student, I
know to do a self-breast exam every month and I was always used to doing mine and I
didn’t feel anything before, so this wasn’t something normal, so after I got out of the
shower, I laid in bed and did another self-breast exam and at that time, I still felt something
hard, so I asked my sister to feel it and I asked her if she could feel anything and
she said yes, so I went down stairs and ask my mother if she could feel anything because
my mother is an RN and she felt and she said yeah, but I don’t think you have breast
cancer and looking at it retrospectively I don’t know if it’s because she didn’t
want to believe that I had breast cancer or if she was just in denial that someone as
young as me could get breast cancer. The very next day, I called for a doctor’s appointment.
I knew that something was wrong so, because I was uninsured and only working part time
as a waitress, I didn’t have any insurance. I didn’t have benefits, so I got seen under
the Susan G. Komen grant and when I went to the Cancer Therapy and Research Center in
San Antonio, they said because of my age and because I didn’t have family history, I
didn’t have the right kind of breast cancer, sometimes that they were just going to do
an ultrasound instead of a mammogram which the doctor had ordered. When the ultrasound
came back, it came back normal and they set me on my way. In September, I woke up in excruciating
pain and the lump that I had found had seemed to grow, so I went back to the doctor and
I actually was seen by a nurse practitioner and he wrote the order for a mammogram and
in order for me to get seen, there had to have been significant change in the lump and
the nurse practitioner had to rewrite the order, but because he said he didn’t find
any significant change, he said he wasn’t going to rewrite the order, so in October
2012, the local hospital called me and asked if I had a mammogram done and I told them
that I hadn’t, so they told me to schedule an appointment with my doctor, so went back
to see the first doctor that I saw and she asked me you know what happens if everything
comes back normal what you going do then and honestly I felt so horrible when she asked
me that because it felt like nobody believe me like I was just crying wolf and I start
to tear up and I told her what else can I do I am just going keep watching it. I am
just going to monitor it, so she wrote the order and once again I got seen under the
Komen Grant and once again the radiologist the same radiologist said you know we are
just going to do an ultrasound. You are too young, you don’t have family history and
we are not able to do a mammogram, so they did another ultrasound and then everything
came back normal, so she set me on my way. For the next seven months, I went home everyday
after work and school crying because nobody would listen to me you know nobody believed
me and in that time I did a lot of research online, reading books from school, looking
up articles, trying to find a connection between young women in breast cancer, and then in
March 2013, a second lump grow, it was the size of the pea and the first one that I had
grown that started up about the small the size of a shooter marble and grown about to
that big the size of a golf ball and I told my family and I told my sister you know I
am not going to be another statistic. I am now going to die because nobody will listen
to me, so I took matters into my own hands. I went to a completely different doctor and
this doctor took me very seriously, so he wrote the order for a mammogram, so at the
time once again, I still was uninsured, so we try to find funding through different resources
here in San Antonio. When I couldn’t find any resources, I had to sign up with the local
hospital program that they offer to the community for people that are in lower socioeconomic
statuses and through them I was able to get seen. I went to a facility downtown and once
again the radiologist said you know, you are too young, you don’t have a family history,
so we are just going to do an ultrasound and I was really upset with that, but I just said
okay let’s do another ultrasound, so they did it, but this time it was different because
the radiologist came in and she says you know we are going to go ahead and do the mammogram
and right then in there I knew what was going to happen and I knew what they were going
to tell me, so they did a mammogram and something that had never happened before happen during
the mammogram. There was discharge. It was bloody and they had just stopped the mammogram
so that they could actually wipe everything that was coming out from my nipple something
that had never happened in all the time that I had the lumps, so then I went back to the
room and the head radiologist came in and she said after doing your ultrasound and your
mammogram, I see some very concerning spots and I need you to come in as soon as possible,
so pushed back her whole day so that I could be her first patient that she saw the very
next day. On Wednesday, I came in and they did a biopsy and one each of the tumors and
then a spot underneath a lymph node underneath my arm and then by Friday May 17, 2013 the
same radiologist from a different facility from the very first facility, the same person
that had told me no you don’t have breast cancer, she was the one who came in to talk
to me and my mother and she told me yes you have breast cancer. I cried, tears felt in
my eyes and when I talked to her I asked do you know who I am and she said yeah I think
I remember your case and I told her you know I am not crying because I am sad because of
my diagnosis, I am crying because I am frustrated and this is such a relief to know that I am
not crazy and that finally everything that I have known everybody knows now that what
I have been saying is true and so I told her you know after today I am not going to cry
anymore because I know that its time for me to fight and after that I didn’t cry anymore.
Because it was through a hospital program, I ended up wrecking up from Tuesday to Friday
$10,000 bill that wasn’t going to be covered by anybody. I would have to pay out-of-pocket.
The day that I got my diagnosis Rosemary Grabo with University Hospital help me to sign up
for the medicate for Breast Cancer and Cervical Cancer Services, so ever since then my treatment,
my medications, ER visits, and doctor visits all of that is covered by medicate, but because
of that $10,000 bill I was getting letters to my house, so I decided to team up with
the blood donor services and the CareLink program at University Hospital and I did a
blood drive for each person that will donate blood in my name it would be a $15 credit
towards my $10,000 bill. It took me about one to two months to get 667 people to donate
blood and completely take care of my bill, so my balance became zero and so now as a
breast cancer patient and survivor what I try to do is find another breast cancer patients
that were in my similar position without insurance, without any kind of financial help, so that
I could set a blood drives so that they can also have their bill become zero and I also
go out in to the community and I talk to different schools and business to a verity of people
men and women children all ages because I want to educate people on the changing face
of breast cancer and let them know that it is possible for you to be diagnosed with breast
cancer uninsured and for you to get through to it and to live and to go on with your life.
I think that its important to give these people hope and to give them that knowledge so if
they have a lump and they are sacred because their doctor just missed as nothing to give
them that courage to keep fighting for their life because what I tell people is you have
one life and one body and what you choose to do with it and what you choose do on this
earth it depends on how hard you will fight because you have to fight for your life if
you want to live on this earth. Wendy Hartley: Hi I am Wendy Hartley, co-founder
of breast cancer answers. You know not every breast cancer patient benefits from chemotherapy.
When I was diagnosed my doctor thought I would need chemotherapy, but then I learned about
the Oncotype DX test which helps your doctor decide if chemotherapy could benefit you based
on the unique biology of your tumor. My test results revealed I had a very low chance of
my cancer returning which meant I didn’t need chemotherapy after all. To learn more
about the Oncotype DX test, click this button here.

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