Two weeks before I was diagnosed with Stage 2 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma, I was climbing up Adam’s Canyon in Salt Lake City, Utah with my husband. I climbed 1,355 feet through a colorful lush trail to stand with my hands held high underneath a breathtaking waterfall. I remember reaching the top of the mountain and crying and recording a video on instagram saying, “We Made It!” I had no worries. I was healthy, I was happy.
In early October 2020, I started lactating out of my right breast. I assumed since I had switched jobs to a unit where there were postpartum mothers and babies that just maybe those hormones had rubbed off on me. My husband told me that I should go get it checked out. I scheduled a checkup with my PCM and she examined my breast and had no answer to why I would be producing milk out of one nipple. She then referred me to an Endocrinologist. In between those two appointments I felt a miniature lump, the size of a pea, start to grow on my right breast. The lactation had stopped but by the time I made it to the Endocrinologist, the lump was now the size of a slice of pineapple. She then referred me to my OBGYN. So i’m completely terrified now because no one is giving me straight answers. No one is saying let’s get a mammogram. Everyone just wants to keep feeling my breast. Once I got to my OBGYN she then did my third feel me up and finally ordered me a mammogram and an ultrasound. All of this happened within a span of 3 weeks. When I think back on those 3 weeks, I think of how much time was wasted by my former medical team. They indeed failed me.
Prior to cancer you couldn’t tell me that I wasn’t the epitome of health. I’m a Certified Exercise Physiologist, a professional natural bikini competitor and I manage a personal training company, LiftByLynley. I don’t smoke, I drink wine on occasion and I eat cleaner than most. Once my OBGYN uttered the words Breast Cancer, I went completely blank. I no longer felt healthy. I immediately felt as if I would die at that very moment. I felt like my identity had been stripped away from me and now there was this sickly weak woman left in its place. How could this happen to me? I started thinking of all the things that I had done that could possibly give me this horrible consequence. Did competing in the shows put too much stress on my body? Did I not eat enough of the right foods to stop free radicals? Caffeine? Lack of sleep? What did I do wrong? Every appointment felt like I was getting more and more bad news. I was told that I had 2 days to make a decision on freezing my eggs or risk losing the ability to have children in the future. I was under the impression that I would be getting trial medications vs standard of care chemotherapy. Then my breast surgeon told me I had no choice but to get a mastectomy. The part that should've broken me was the fact that I received all this information alone. My husband was away at PA school in Utah at the time when I got my diagnosis. I think anyone else would have lost it right then and there.
Prior to chemotherapy, my husband and I made the decision to have my eggs frozen. Those were the longest 10 days of my life. Having to give myself fertility shots morning and night was not something that I ever thought I would be able to do. Luckily I work with a bunch of nurses in the Childbirth Center who were willing to administer them for me. Since time was of the essence I had to get my eggs removed the day after my first round of chemotherapy. I really went into the first round of chemo thinking it wouldn’t be that bad. Ha! Day three is when everything fell apart for me. Not only did I have the debilitating cramps from the egg retrieval but the neulasta shot finally kicked in along with all the other side effects of chemo. I truly felt as if I was possessed. I had no control over my body and just knew that I was dying from the poison that was pumped into me. A week went by and I was starting to function again. Right before my second round, I went to comb my braids out and huge chunks just hit the floor. I passed out on the floor like Ricky from Boys in the Hood. It was like hearing the diagnosis all over again. I had to actually see myself with cancer. I made the decision to have it cut really low because I didn’t want to see it fall out like that anymore. One day I started looking like Redd Foxx so I just took my husband's clippers and shaved it bald. At that moment I felt a sense of relief. I felt stronger.
I finish my final round of chemotherapy this Friday, I’m bald and I have 15 frozen chillen’ waiting on me at the cryobank. I can tell you today that I am no longer that sad, frail woman that I was when I was diagnosed. I have my days where I’m scared that the chemo isn’t working and then I remember that I’ve already asked God to handle this. I pray harder and daily. I continue to workout as much as I can without overexercerting myself. I eat as clean as possible but do not deny myself of food deemed less healthy. My husband is home with me and is pushing his “peanut head” to fight hard everyday. I know that I was made for this journey because I wouldn’t have made it this far. I truly feel like I’m being used to help someone. It may be a person going through this similar situation or someone who isn’t sick at all but needs motivation/inspiration. I’ve been able to meet so many other amazing women who are currently throwing hands with cancer as well. It’s a clique that we were jumped into. I have always hated losing to anything or anyone. So sit back and watch cancer catch this fade. ~ Lynley • • Congratulations Lynley! Thanks for sharing your story with Shay Sharpe’s Pink Wishes. You are recipient #6 in our March Madness campaign. You will receive $100 now and your name will be added to the drawing at the end of the month to possibly win the $1000 grand prize! Good luck and Best Wishes. ~ Madame President