Trina followed her doctor’s instructions and got her baseline mammogram when she was 35 years old. Everything checked out fine so they told her she could wait to have another at age 40. Seventeen months later, in March of 2010 she found a lump in her breast. She went to see a doctor and was told it was just a cyst and not to worry about it. Two weeks later Trina went back for her yearly exam. Her nurse practitioner felt the lump as well but didn’t come up with the same diagnosis.
They immediately got Trina in for a mammogram, an ultrasound, and five biopsy samples. On April 6th she received a phone call saying, “You have invasive ductal carcinoma; you have breast cancer.”
After numerous tests and consultations, Trina opted to have her right breast removed, as her surgeon suggested, but also prophylactically opted to remove her left breast and ovaries as insurance against a future re-occurrence. The surgeon removed three sentinel lymph nodes and one of them came back testing positive with a trace of cancer. This meant the next step was chemotherapy.
Trina experienced minor side effects from chemotherapy and was happy she wasn’t feeling sick all the time and able to function. She did experience a huge hit against her self-image. “When you have breast cancer everything goes so fast. You lose a lot rather quickly and it is hard to process the diagnosis, let alone the drastic changes in the mirror. You lose all of your hair, you have a medicated look about you, and I’d just gone through a double mastectomy. It was a lot to take in.”
“Everything changes – some of my friends didn’t understand what I was going through and I had to let them pass by, other friends become stronger. I was full of emotions – both anger and depression. I am a mom, I am a wife. I worked full time during my treatment. I tried to keep as normal as a life if possible, but the reality was, everything changed. I am learning to let the small things slide. I appreciate life more. I hold the people that I want to closer to me.”
After chemo was over Trina had reconstruction surgery. They stretched her chest with expanders and also took latissimus flaps (lower back muscles) to form the new breast mounds with implants. It helped her fit back into her clothes, which gave her some normality, but as she processes the procedure she isn’t sure if she did it for herself or because she thought it is what she was expected to do.
After almost two years of being cancer free Trina decided to get a tattoo. She found a design of angel wings with a pink ribbon and chose to have the word “Warrior” added to the top for her past, present, and future warrior sisters.
Though Trina did everything medically possible to fight this disease, the breast cancer metastasized to her bones and liver. She spent the last two years of her life traveling and making memories with her friends and family. She became an advocate for other women dealing with Metastatic Breast Cancer. Her memory, and her legacy of taking action resides in all of us who knew her.