This past July 2019, I was enjoying my summer vacation: lacrosse tournaments with my son’s travel team trips to the beach, fruity drinks with friends…livin’ the teacher life! This was going to be a great summer with my family and friends. I went in for my yearly physical like I do every summer. I told the doctor that I had lost about 10 pounds but my pants were tight (I was bloated), I had heartburn all the time, I felt like I was peeing way too often, and I was more tired than normal. She told me to eat more fiber, scheduled me for a mammogram (because as she pointed out…I was almost 40), did a breast exam, and sent me on my way. They saw calcification in my left breast and needed me to come back in for a magnified mammogram. The next day I felt a lump in my underarm so when I went back in I got an ultrasound as well. Apparently they didn’t like what they saw because a couple of hours later I was sent to get 2 biopsies and on July 16th at 11:30 am, while watching my son work out at the gym, I got the call I was dreading…I had breast cancer.
Over the next several weeks I met with a variety of doctors, got many scans and MRIs, had 2 more biopsies, and got genetic testing done. Then came the call from my oncologist that truly made my heart skip a beat…I not only had breast cancer, but I was also Brca1 positive, and I had stage 4 ovarian cancer (10cmX12cm mass in my left ovary) that has spread to my spleen, kidney, abdomen, and lymph node. I remember stopping my doctor in mid-sentence and asking her flat-out if I was going to die. I always thought stage 4 was a death sentence and here I was a single mom and only 39 years old. This couldn’t be happening to me.
I’ve been told many times that God only gives you what you can handle. It’s times like this that we learn how truly strong we are…I was going to beat this…Cancer wasn’t the boss of me… I would never let it steal my smile. Over the next 8 months, I had 6 rounds of chemo, lost my hair, had a full hysterectomy, got the lump removed from my left breast, and learned I was a warrior!!
With the expectation that my cancer will most likely return, I am taking 2 cancer pills to help keep both the breast and ovarian cancers from returning for as long as we can. I will also continue to be monitored: blood tests every month, either a breast MRI and a mammogram every 6 months, and a CT scan every 3 months. They call ovarian cancer the silent killer, but it’s not silent at all. It is there, we are just not listening carefully enough to our own bodies. Women and/or our doctors brush off the symptoms we are feeling. We need to change this…be our own advocate and get the message out that early diagnosis is the key to survival.
To my teal sisters, always remember, you are braver than you think, stronger than you seem, and loved more than you know.
Lisa Trupo is a daughter, a sister, a single mom, a friend, a teacher, and now a survivor!! She lives in Damascus, Maryland with her 12-year-old son Jacob. In Jacob’s 7 years of football, wrestling, and lacrosse she has never missed a game or match and cancer hasn’t and will not stop her!