Hi, my name is Denise. I’m a 38 year old Army wife and mom of 3. I’m here to share a bit of my story.
I was always just a small town country girl. I grew up on a farm with all of my family living right next door to me. It was a quiet but simple life. I got married at 18 & had my daughter. I didn’t live too far away from my home at the farm. One night I was notified that there was a fire at our house at the farm. I lost my Dad that night in the fire. This has been the greatest loss of my life. My husband joined the army shortly after. At our second base that we were stationed at we had an electrical fire in our military housing 10 days before Christmas.
We lost everything. I was devastated. We had to start completely over again from nothing. But eventually we got there.
Then the summer of 2011 we got stationed at Ft. Bragg , NC. I was really excited to be where it was so warm and beaches were near by. But I had this one problem- A sore on my nipple that just wouldn’t go away. I kept going in to the Dr. but they just kept telling me that it was psoriasis and that it would go away. Finally it was getting so bad that it was starting to stick to my clothes. I started to research online and have found that it was probably pagets disease (a form of breast cancer). I demanded another doctor after about 7 months. This doctor sent me in for a mammogram and a biopsy. In January of 2012 I found out that not only did I have Paget’s disease but I had an aggressive form of cancer on the inside too.
The day before my sons 5th birthday I had to make the decision to have a mastectomy to remove the cancer or to just do a lumpectomy that could allow it to come back. I had my first surgery February 24, 2012. I have now had 12 surgeries due to the cancer and reconstruction. I also tested positive for the BRCA2 gene. Which means that my breast cancer is likely to come back. And it also means that I am likely to get ovarian cancer. So my doctors wanted me to get my ovaries taken out and my tubes. I had surgery to remove my tubes a year and a half ago. I’m delaying the ovary surgery for as long as I can because of all of the hormone issues.
At first all of this really hurt my self-esteem. I walked around in this North Carolina heat in the summer wearing a sweater to hide my drains after surgery. I was put on a lot of bed rest and had gained weight, I did not feel pretty, and was depressed. But I had to pull it together for my family. I started telling my story more instead of hiding it. I even started modeling at car shows. I do want to inspire other women. I know what it feels like to be at your lowest point and to feel like a disaster. But I feel like I have broken through that mold and became a Beautiful Disaster. And it’s true that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I love the message you guys send. Thank you for taking the time to read my story .