At just 30 years old, Lindsey Baguio Gerhard was newly married and settling into her first home with her husband when a pea-sized lump in her right breast changed everything.
As Lindsey would soon learn, that lump turned out to be Stage 2 breast cancer which called for 2 rounds of fertility preservation and a unilateral mastectomy and reconstruction of her right breast.
On the mend and believing she was in the clear, Lindsey began putting the pieces of her life back together. She took a bucket list trip to the Philippines with her family, where she swam with whale sharks and climbed to the tops of waterfalls to plunge into the water. Closer to home, she began volunteering in a community center for women, and she and her husband completed the first phase of their home renovation.
Then during a routine annual exam with her plastic surgeon, Lindsey heard the words no cancer survivor ever wants to hear…another mass.
It turned out to be cancer. Again. Needless to say, this second diagnosis was shocking–especially because for more than a year Lindsey had been taking Tamoxifen (a drug given to cancer patients to reduce the likelihood of their cancer reoccurring and new cancerous cells from forming.) Her first thought was, how could this happen to me…again?
This time she was dealing with Stage 1 cancer but since the mass was growing rather aggressively, a more intense treatment protocol would be required. The first step: to undergo twelve rounds of chemotherapy over the course of five months. Step two: 33 doses of radiation.
Although she’s a cancer survivor, Lindsey has come to realize that cancer doesn’t define her; it’s simply a part of who she is now. And rather than try (in vain) to reassemble the old Lindsey, she’s finding joy in discovering the new Lindsey and is learning to navigate her new “normal”.
I was inspired by Lindsey’s unusual story of being diagnosed with breast cancer at such a young age, and at two different times. I was curious to learn more about how she coped and if her experience changed her outlook or how she lived her life.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of Lindsey’s story, where we sat down for a Q & A and talked about what it was like to receive a cancer diagnosis at 30 years old and how surviving cancer not once, but twice changed her outlook on life. Click here to join my mailing list and read the rest of the story as soon as it becomes available.