Stacey Newton is a 33-year-old mother of three. She is also a pharmacist with a doctorate degree. She has been kind enough to share her triple negative breast cancer story with us and hopes it will inspire as well as educate others.
Read her firsthand thoughts here:
Prior to my cancer diagnosis, I was healthy. I had no risk factors for breast cancer. We found out from genetic testing that I have no markers for any of the breast cancer genes either. I breastfed all three of my children, I was physically active and ate relatively healthy. In fact, I completed the Richmond Marathon in 2012 and have loved running ever since.
Looking at my health and lifestyle, I shouldn’t have cancer, but I do, and I want to help make people aware that it can happen to anyone. Breast self-exams are incredibly important in early detection. If something doesn’t seem right with your body, you should contact your medical provider.
I was first diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) on Oct. 14, 2020. It was two days before my youngest son’s first birthday. I discovered a lump while breastfeeding and noticed I was due for an annual appointment with my OB/GYN. I scheduled the appointment for a couple weeks later.
Upon examination of the lump, my OB/GYN referred me to Dr. Polly Stephens at Virginia Breast Center. Dr. Stephens didn’t have any appointments within the next week due to vacation, but they still got me in quickly to see Dr. James Pelicane the next day. At this appointment, I had my first breast biopsy performed. The following Wednesday, Dr. Pelicane called me himself and gave me the news that my biopsy came back as cancerous.
In the following week, I had a breast MRI and lymph node biopsy with Dr. Stephens. I also had my first meeting with my oncologist, Dr. William Irvin. I felt much better once we had a plan in place. The following week, I had my port placement with Dr. Stephens at Bon Secours – St. Francis Medical Center.
This was my first medical procedure in the last decade that didn’t involve giving birth. Everyone that I encountered that day was phenomenal. This included the person who greeted me at the front door to take my temperature and ask COVID-19 questions, the compassionate intake receptionist, my nurse (Greg), the anesthesiologists and Dr. Stephens. Greg was light-hearted, calming and professional. He clearly explained all the steps that were happening before and after my procedure. Dr. Stephens came and sat with me to chat for a few minutes while we were waiting to go into the operating room. I could tell that everyone truly cared about their patients and it made me feel so much more comfortable.
So far, I’ve completed five months of chemotherapy with my last treatment on March 29. I also had a lumpectomy on April 19, then completed six weeks of daily radiation therapy. That last treatment was on July 7.
Thankfully, I had a complete pathological response to chemo! I’m doing really well now, and trying to get back to “normal.” My energy level has increased and I’m getting back to running and walking for exercise. Oct. 14 is one year since my diagnosis, and our youngest son turns 2 years old on Oct. 16. I’ve already had a follow-up appointment with my breast surgeon, Dr. Polly Stephens this month. I’ll be having a breast MRI and mammogram this month as well, which will be yearly scans for me. Then at the beginning of November, I’ll follow up with my oncologist, Dr. William Irvin.
We’re keeping busy with our middle son playing flag football, our daughter doing cheerleading and our youngest son is trying to keep up with his older siblings. It’s been a whirlwind of a year, but we’ve had so much love and support from family, friends and neighbors. Having a strong support system makes a huge difference during difficult times like those we faced this past year.
I think the biggest thing we’ve taken away from this experience is to embrace life and all of its obstacles. Time is a gift, spend it with the ones you love. Trivial things that used to bother or frustrate me don’t anymore. I’m much more patient and like to focus even more on being kind to others. You never know what someone else may be going through.
Learn more about the breast cancer services and treatment we offer at Bon Secours.