Erica Byruch

Erica Byruch

Diagnosed in June 2013 at age 34

It was December 2012 when my best friend called me frantically that she felt a lump in her breast. I immediately told her to come pick me up and that I will go with her to the doctor. We were driving down 495 heading from NYC to Great Neck. I was trying to keep her calm. I was explaining everyone has lumps and bumps in their breast and I’m sure she’s going to be fine. I even went as far as digging in my own breast to prove it to her. Well to my surprise I found this tiny marble like thing in my right breast. It was so deep and tiny that I would have never felt it unless I was digging! We both kind of smiled at each other being that our lumps felt the same and reassured each other what are the odds of us both having breast cancer. When we arrived at her ob/gyn she had an ultrasound, which thank god turned out to be nothing. So excited my best friend was okay, I figured I was in the clear as well. A few months went by and my fiancé and I decided we wanted to try and get pregnant. I decided to go to my ob/gyn and just check on that tiny lump I had found.

My ob/gyn did a breast exam and didn’t feel a lump. I showed her the exact location. She felt it, and said it’s nothing, but to clear my head go get an ultrasound. I asked her if I should wait to get pregnant or if it’s ok to try. She told me go ahead and try. I got pregnant on the first try, and something in my head said to go get that breast ultrasound before my breasts get large from the pregnancy. On April 19, I went for an ultrasound. About half an hour later I receive a phone call from my ob/gyn saying that it looked suspicious and I needed a biopsy. Next thing I know, I’m scheduled for a biopsy at Mt. Sinai. I walked into Dubin breast center in tears with my mom and fiancé. I just knew it was going to be malignant. Unfortunately my instincts were correct. When the radiologist called me with the bad news, I actually passed out! How was this happening to me? I’m only 34 years old, no family history and very healthy. I ended up having a d&c because it was so early in the pregnancy and I wanted to best treatment I could have. I knew I needed to be there for my 5 year old. On May 10 2013 I had a double mastectomy followed by reconstruction. June 25 I began 8 rounds of chemotherapy followed by radiation. I was considered stage 2a. The cancer was in the sentinel node, which attached to the tumor, but thank god it didn’t spread to the other lymph nodes. My doctor told me it was very aggressive and probably would have spread in just months.

It has been a year since I was diagnosed; it was a very scary and emotional year, but I got through it. Luckily I had compassionate doctors and got a tremendous amount of support from my fiancé, my daughter, my family and close friends. They kept me positive and fighting! The day I came home from shaving my head, my five year old begged me to remove the wig. I really did not want her to see! She was so used to her mom having long dark hair. What was she going to think? Well, I will never forget her reaction. “Mommy, don’t ever for one second think you’re not beautiful. You would be beautiful with band-aids all over your head. Or with blue and pink hair. She was unbelievable thru this entire process. My mom and fiancé came to every appointment and treatment. Even my friends came a few times. It’s so important to be surrounded by the people you love and love you. There are so many young women being diagnosed that I feel it’s important for us to be there for each other. It’s people like Jennifer who bring us all together and show us how life will get back to normal down the road.

Erica Byruch

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