“My Voice” by Katie Roosa

Katie Roosa - 'Survivor'

March 24, 2008 was the day that I got news that changed my life; that was the day I heard the words: “You have breast cancer”.  At first I thought there was some sort of mistake, I had a lump removed, but I was only 20 years old.  I have no family history of breast cancer and I thought I was too young for breast cancer. But as it turned out, I had stage II breast cancer.  After I came to terms with the diagnosis, I decided to be as proactive as I could and beat this disease.

I had a unilateral mastectomy 2 months after my diagnoses, just enough time for me to finish my junior year of college at UW-Milwaukee.  School has always been very important to me and I did not want to let cancer get in the way of me finishing my classes.  After surgery, we found out some good news that the cancer had not spread to my lymph nodes.  As soon as I was healing from my surgery, I started chemotherapy.  I did six rounds of three aggressive chemotherapy drugs.  This is how I spent my summer vacation and my 21st birthday.  I always joke how I imagined having cocktails for my 21st birthday, but I never imagined it would be with chemo cocktails.

I started school in the fall and finished chemo in September.  A year after my diagnosis I have completed a unilateral mastectomy, six rounds of chemotherapy, and breast reconstruction and I feel I have a new calling in life.  I want to help other young women know their risk of breast cancer and help those who face similar situations to my own.

I will graduate in May of 2010 with an Early Childhood Education degree.  I enjoy spending my free time with friends and family.  I truly cherish each day and am thankful for all the wonderful people I have in my life and all the people this cancer journey has brought into my life.

I once heard the saying, “I may have cancer, but cancer does not have me”.  To me, this statement defines what being a survivor is about.  Being a survivor is not letting cancer define who you are and run your life.  This message has given me hope throughout my battle with breast cancer and it sums up how I feel about my cancer.  I had cancer, but I was not going to let it determine all that I am.  I am proud to say that I am a survivor.