Breast Cancer in the Shower
A Warrior’s Story
At approximately 4:30 p.m. on November 20, 2020 my shower was interrupted. I felt a lump in my right breast. I got dressed while simultaneously calling my primary care doctor’s office. The receptionist told me that I could not walk-in due to the Covid-19 restrictions. She advised that I would need to make an appointment and was trying to take my information when I hung up the phone. She could not have understood what was going on with me. I headed to the office and after pleading my case, I was seen by a different doctor than my own. Inside I knew I something was wrong. After the exam I was referred to the New York University (NYU) Langone Radiology for a sonogram two (2) days later. The wait was difficult I had no information and for those days I was left to my own thoughts and imaginations. NYU gave me another referral for a core biopsy of the mass as well as a mammogram which I did on December 3, 2020.
It was cancer! On December 4,2020, at approximately 10:15 a. m. Dr. Kim called me to let know that the results showed cancer. Additional testing was needed to determine more about the cancer and I was sent for an MRI. In my heart I did not want to pursue this testing it was the holiday season and I had been so happy prior to this discovery. I really wanted to forget this and table it until later after the holidays. I thought about Zyaire, my son, and this gave me the answer. I had to fight.
My name is Shawna Knowlden and on December 4th, 2020 at 34 years old I was diagnosed with stage 3C breast cancer (triple negative) in my right breast. My thoughts moved toward getting the cancer removed. I consulted with a breast surgeon who advised me that because of the size of the mass I would need to undergo chemotherapy first and then have surgical removal. The breast surgeon gave me a referral to an oncologist. When I met the oncologist, I just wanted to know how much time I had left to live. His words were calm and they reassured me that we were going to fight for my life.
I started chemotherapy on December 15, 2020, one of the medicines from the cocktail was called the red devil. I thought of my son as I went through the battle 16 cycles of chemotherapy. Zyaire was 8 years old and all I could focus on was that he needed his mother. I would do everything in my power to fight in spite of the sickness.
On June 11, 2021 I underwent a surgery which removed both breasts ( a double mastectomy) and lymph nodes dissection of my right arm. On August 2, 2021 I started radiation therapy and completed it on September 23, 2021. I completed a total of 36 cycles of radiation therapy.
I am writing this to remind young women that having breasts put you at risk for developing breast cancer. I encourage all women young and old to make it a habit to check your breasts and armpits in the shower. Though I have lost my hair and both breasts I am still Shawna, a warrior at the core. I am still on chemotherapy today as I write my story. I am victoriously winning this battle for myself and all my brave sisters all around the world.
Mindfulness has been a very important thing for me because everyone’s cancer and coping mechanisms are different. I have had to keep a positive outlook everyday. For those who want to help I do not ask for your pity but for your prayers and for you to believe with me for a cure for this disease. For me a shower revealed breast cancer. Early detection is the best road to a cure.