Caitlin's Story

Stories of StrengthI found my first lump in my breast when I was 18 years old. I knew my family had a history with breast cancer but I never thought it would affect me, especially at such a young age. When I first found the lump it was about the size of a nickel. The doctors ran test and found out it was benign so they sent me to a specialist to talk about my options. Just from the few months from finding the lump to getting into the specialist my lump had grown to the size of a golf ball. The lump caused me severe pain plus the stress of knowing there was a lump growing inside of me at such a young age was very hard on me. The doctor decided it would be best to wait until after my high school graduation to do the surgery to remove it so I would be able to recover without missing school. By the time the surgeon was able to remove my lump, it had grown to the size of a deck of cards and they also found a cyst in my breast duct. It took a couple months to recover but I thought I had put everything behind me, that is until 2 years later. I started experiencing severe chest pain in both my breasts. It was a constant pain that disabled me from doing my day to day things. I went to the hospital and to multiple doctors but they couldn’t find anything to explain my pain. A few months later, I noticed my breast tissue was starting change. It started to feel firm and lumpy. I felt like there was a ton of bricks on my chest. I went back to my specialist and they ran more tests. It turned out that my breast tissue was starting to turn into rock solid lumps that would change size, they also said I was a high risk for it developing into breast cancer. There was no tumor this time, my breast tissue was literally turning toxic. My specialist tried everything they could to try and reverse the hard breast tissue. We tried diet, medication, taking me off my birth control, pain cream and more. Everything we tried did not work. Their final suggestion was a double mastectomy, I was 20 years old. It devastated me, I couldn’t believe that my only option to relieve my pain was to remove my breasts. The mental and physical toll everything took on me was almost unbearable, it was very difficult. It took months to prepare everything for surgery but thankfully my doctors were going to be able to do my double mastectomy and reconstruction in the same surgery. My surgery was successful but the recovery process wasn’t easy especially emotionally. I felt like I had lost part of me that had made me a woman, I felt very unattractive. A few months after my surgery, I ran into one of the most inspiring woman I have ever met at a post office. Her name was Beka Doolittle, and the reason she caught my eye was because she was wearing awesome breast cancer awareness clothing. Even though I didn’t have breast cancer, it still ran in my family and meant a lot to me. I walked up to her and asked where she got her clothes, that’s when she told me about and invited me to her house to check out her product where we talked for hours. Her strong, bright, outgoing personality was just inspiring to me. She showed me how to be comfortable in my body again and feel good about myself. She is an inspiration to me and she helped me accept myself and my body. I will always look to her as an amazing mentor.