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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. 

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