Sandy Denesowicz, diagnosed at 28

The day started off like any other Sunday. Lazy days catching up on laundry, my soaps and whatever other mindless things I let myself do as a 28-year-old single girl. I don’t even think I made it out of my pajamas that day.

I would love to say I was a rule follower who preformed regular breast self exams, but that just wasn’t the case. Every once in awhile I would check around and wonder if I would ever know if something felt different. I also thought my breast felt so lumpy that it would be impossible to ever feel a problem. That’s when I felt it. I thought to myself, “hmmm…this lump hasn’t always been there, has it?” It was a lump around the size of my palm on the top of my right breast. My boyfriend at the time came over that night; I asked him if the lump was something I should be concerned with. It was at his insistence that I made an appointment with my primary care physician the next morning.

Over the next few days my world included a mammogram, which followed up with a core needle biopsy. By Friday of the same week, I heard the words that no one should ever hear, “I am sorry to say that you have breast cancer.” My entire world felt as small as a cardboard box. My first thought was, “I don’t want to die!” That was the first and only time I thought I was going to die. That is the only time I ever let the idea enter my head.

“Even though I wasn’t fortunate enough to catch the cancer early, I do credit my self-check with finding anything at all!”

I was told that I had to meet with a surgeon that day and if I couldn’t, then I would have to be seen by someone, which told me this was serious. The following two weeks were a bit of a blur to say the least. Within those two weeks, my days consisted of MRIs, PET Scans and a barrage of other necessary tests. Those tests informed me that my case was stage IV which means cancer had spread outside the original site. In my case it was in my right lung and liver. On New Year’s Eve I found myself sitting in a chemo chair. Happy New Year to me! (Note to self: Never have this kind of celebration again!)

My fight included 6 rounds of TAC chemo (Taxotere, Adriamycin, Cytoxan) which total 18 very long weeks, a partial mastectomy and almost 8 weeks of daily radiation.

Even though I wasn’t fortunate enough to catch the cancer early, I do credit my self-check with finding anything at all! My yearly OBGYN breast exam was not scheduled until August of the next year, which at my age doesn’t even include a mammogram!


  • a lump the size of her palm on the top of her right breast