The Battle Continues: Life After Cancer
One Erie native is helping raise awareness by sharing the surprises that came with her cancer diagnosis.
Cassie Henry is an outgoing young woman from Erie who travels the world as a flight attendant. It was while she was in between flights that she found the lump she would soon be told was breast cancer.
Henry was bike riding in her down time while in a new place and fell off the bike. That's when she found the lump. "I assumed it was a cyst or just damage from falling or even new deodorant I was using because I have no family history," Henry recalled, "literally nobody in my family has cancer—especially breast cancer—so why would I think it was anything?"
Regardless of family history, dosomething.org reports about one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime.
She said from then on, she encountered a lot of surprises. "They don't tell you that you're going to take steroids and the steroids are going to make you gain weight. They don't tell you there might be delayed reactions. A month after completing chemo, my eyebrows and my eyelashes fell out and I thought I'm done with this," Henry said.
Her "cancer free" declaration came at a check-up appointment on April 18th this year, but her battle with cancer will be lifelong. Henry continues to have treatments and follow-up appointments months after getting the all-clear.
She still has a port in her chest under her skin for doctors to put in chemo medicines. Her last dose before getting the port removed is late October. It's all part of ensuring the cancer doesn't come back.
What caught her off-guard the most, was one of the major side effects of her hormone-suppressing medicine. At just 30 years old, Henry is going through menopause because of her treatments. "Because I was hormonal positive, they want to reduce the hormones. So they give me a shot now every 28 days that keeps the hormones suppressed so the menopause continues unfortunately and it'll continue even with the new oral medication."
Henry says battling cancer is rough, but keeping a positive attitude and finding support from loved ones and others who are going through treatment helped her get through the toughest parts. She says it's hard to stay positive all the time, but keeping her head up is what she believes got her through her diagnosis.
For help on how to find support while battling cancer, you can go to online resources like cancercare.org or reach out to others who have been diagnosed via social media.