Every year, cancer invades the lives of thousands of people around the world, causing loved ones to fall ill and, in the worst case, taking the lives of its victims.
When it comes to breast cancer specifically, about one in every 8 women in the United States will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime, according to BreastCancer.org. In fact, in 2019 alone, it’s predicted that 268,600 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women across the United States.
That’s why Twisted X footwear created their Tough Enough To Wear Pink line of shoes, where they donate a portion of every pair sold to breast cancer treatment and research. Through this campaign, Twisted X has had the opportunity to hear stories from those affected by breast cancer— including Shannon P., an avid horse rider who was 44 years old when she was first diagnosed.
“A routine mammogram discovered that I had 2 tumors and possible lymph node involvement,” she stated. “The day that my biopsy results came in I was headed to a horse show and had to detour to my doctors with my rig and my horse on board.”
Her biopsy revealed that she had invasive ductal carcinoma that was grade 3, and triple positive, Her2 +, ER+ and PR+.
“In short, the cancer was feeding off my hormones,” she explained. “That was the last horse show we got to compete in for 2017.”
Within the 30 days of her biopsy, Shannon was scheduled for a single mastectomy, removing her right breast on July 13th, 2017.
“The pathology report showed that I was stage 3a, but my lymph nodes were still cancerous, and I was going to require radiation as well as chemo,” she shared. “I had a port placed into my chest due to the aggressiveness of the chemo that I was slated to receive, FEC-DH. For me, chemo was six rounds every three weeks, and on the fourth round I would start a drug called Herceptin and I would receive that every three weeks for a year. Chemo left my body ravaged, I gained 35 pounds of water weight in ten days, I was so swollen they thought my skin was close to bursting.”
In December of 2017, Shannon met her radiation oncologist.
“[I] was sent for another CT scan to determine how much the chemo had done to destroy the cancer in my lymph nodes,” she said. “It had shrunk it, but I still had a pin sized spot showing. Radiation started in January, 16 rounds of it.”
She shared that while radiation was seemingly easy compared to chemo, the end was painful.
“Radiation was easy compared to chemo until near the end they tell you that you are going to continue to “cook” for a week to two weeks after the finish,” she said. “They did not lie. Blistering and peeling ensued, relief was not easy.”
In May, she had a CT scan that told her she was cancer-free.
“What no one warned me about it is that the day you are declared cancer free is as overwhelming and emotional as the day they tell you that you have cancer.”
Having breast cancer taught Shannon many things—including how to “really live.”
“The thing that cancer taught me was to look forward to things, how to really live,” she said. “I rode through chemo and I ordered a new work saddle with my name and the breast cancer ribbon on it to mark the end of chemo, I went with my friends and my horse to Vegas to the Silver Dollar Circuit to celebrate the end of radiation, I traveled more in 2018 just making sure that I was experiencing life, rather than being scared of what cancer could do.”
Two years two her diagnosis date, she says she still has side effects, but she continues to modify and refuses to give up.
“I am almost two years to my diagnosis date, I still have some side effects that I am dealing with as I am on a ten-year hormone therapy drug, it has changed the way I show horses, but instead of giving up I just modified to what my body is capable of handling,” she said. “I have completed phase one of the reconstruction process called DIEP Flap, and will be undergoing phase two sometime this spring. My cancer team tells me that this is a marathon and not a sprint.”
“I really didn’t understand what Tough Enough to Wear Pink meant until it was myself that needed to dig in and find the warrior within. My motto now is enjoy life, ride the horse, buy the shoes (just don’t tell my husband I have 5 pairs of Twisted X shoes!!!!!) and never ever stop living,” she said.