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I Participated in a Clinical Trial That Saved My Life


My heart thudded as I stared into my husband, Daniel’s, eyes, unsure how to break the terrible news. “I have breast cancer,” I whispered. Lost for words, he pulled me close and held me as I cried.

After finding a lump in the shower two weeks earlier, a mammogram and biopsy had confirmed my worst fears. I’d gone from a healthy mom with no family history of cancer to a woman with a stage 3, almond-sized tumor in her left breast and lymph nodes.

Telling our daughters, Maddison, 12, and Montana, 10, was the hardest part. “I’m going to get sicker,” I explained. “But I promise I’ll get better afterwards.” Wrapping me in a bear hug, they cried against me. It was a lot for their little hearts to handle.

melissa before cancer

Melissa, Daniel, Maddison (right) and Montana. (Photo Credit: Now to Love)

A week later, Daniel and my mom took me to discuss treatment options with my surgeon. “Because your estrogen levels are causing your cancer to grow, you’re eligible to take part in a clinical trial,” she told us.

The ELIMINATE trial would combine chemo and hormone drugs to try to shrink the tumor and avoid the need for a mastectomy. A positive outcome wasn’t guaranteed, but Daniel and I agreed it was worth a shot. I thought about my daughters and others who might one day benefit from trials like this one.

A month later, I started chemo alongside estrogen blocking drugs. My mom sat holding my hand as two large syringes of red liquid were injected into my veins. In 15 weeks, I had 16 rounds of chemo. Aside from fatigue and losing my blonde hair, it didn’t knock me about too bad. In fact, it was so successful, my tumor shrunk by one centimeter in that time. “Instead of removing your entire breast, we only need to perform a lumpectomy,” my surgeon told me happily.

melissa after treatment

Melissa leaving the hospital after my surgery. (Photo Credit: Now to Love)

A month later, the tumor and two lymph nodes in the surrounding area were removed. Waking up from surgery, I saw my girls run up to my bed. “Hurry up, we want you back,” they encouraged. The following day, Maddison and Montana pushed my wheelchair out the hospital doors and Daniel drove us home.

Now, a year after I finished radiation, I’m cancer-free and back to being an active mom – something that wouldn’t have been possible without the less-invasive trial treatment.

I’m so grateful to have come so far.

This post was written by a guest writer. For more, check out our sister site Now to Love.

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