Survivor Sarah Pascual Shares Her Breast Cancer Story

Sarah’s Breast Cancer Story

Breast Cancer StoryAt 27, Sarah Pascual was working part-time as a waitress, going to nursing school full-time, an active swimmer and training for a volleyball tournament. Sounds like a lot right?

Well, there was even more on Sarah’s plate when she found a lump after playing volleyball and swimming. As a nursing student, she knew something was wrong. She knew that the lump she had found could potentially be cancer.

Uninsured, Sarah was able to get seen by the doctor thanks to The Susan G. Komen grant and The Cancer Therapy and Research Center in San Antonio. Because of her age and not having a family history of breast cancer, she was told that she didn’t have the right kind of breast cancer.

They ended up doing an ultrasound instead of a mammogram which the doctor had ordered.  When the ultrasound came back, it came back normal and they sent Sarah on her way. Almost a year later, she grew a second lump and through a biopsy, found out that Sarah indeed had cancer.

Sarah shares the rest of her breast cancer story and gives you advice on how she was able to raise money for her breast cancer treatments in this video.

Transcript

Sarah Pascual:  Hi, my name is Sarah and I am currently a breast cancer survivor, but I want to start from the beginning and tell you my story.  I was 27 working part time as a waitress, going to nursing school full time, and I was currently practicing for a volleyball tournament from a church.

I was very active.  I used to ride and work out everyday before or after school or before or after work, was also swimmer and in August 2012 one day after playing volleyball and swimming, I was in the shower and I felt something that I had never felt before.

As a nursing student, I know to do a self-breast exam every month and I was always used to doing mine and I didn’t feel anything before, so this wasn’t something normal, so after I got out of the shower, I laid in bed and did another self-breast exam and at that time, I still felt something hard, so I asked my sister to feel it and I asked her if she could feel anything and she said yes, so I went down stairs and ask my mother if she could feel anything because my mother is an RN and she felt and she said yeah, but I don’t think you have breast cancer and looking at it retrospectively I don’t know if it’s because she didn’t want to believe that I had breast cancer or if she was just in denial that someone as young as me could get breast cancer.

The very next day, I called for a doctor’s appointment.  I knew that something was wrong so, because I was uninsured and only working part time as a waitress, I didn’t have any insurance.  I didn’t have benefits, so I got seen under the Susan G. Komen grant and when I went to the Cancer Therapy and Research Center in San Antonio, they said because of my age and because I didn’t have family history, I didn’t have the right kind of breast cancer, sometimes that they were just going to do an ultrasound instead of a mammogram which the doctor had ordered. 

When the ultrasound came back, it came back normal and they set me on my way.  In September, I woke up in excruciating pain and the lump that I had found had seemed to grow, so I went back to the doctor and I actually was seen by a nurse practitioner and he wrote the order for a mammogram and in order for me to get seen, there had to have been significant change in the lump and the nurse practitioner had to rewrite the order, but because he said he didn’t find any significant change, he said he wasn’t going to rewrite the order, so in October 2012, the local hospital called me and asked if I had a mammogram done and I told them that I hadn’t, so they told me to schedule an appointment with my doctor, so went back to see the first doctor that I saw and she asked me you know what happens if everything comes back normal what you going do then and honestly I felt so horrible when she asked me that because it felt like nobody believe me like I was just crying wolf and I start to tear up and I told her what else can I do I am just going keep watching it. 

I am just going to monitor it, so she wrote the order and once again I got seen under the Komen Grant and once again the radiologist the same radiologist said you know we are just going to do an ultrasound.  You are too young, you don’t have family history and we are not able to do a mammogram, so they did another ultrasound and then everything came back normal, so she set me on my way.  For the next seven months, I went home everyday after work and school crying because nobody would listen to me you know nobody believed me and in that time I did a lot of research online, reading books from school, looking up articles, trying to find a connection between young women in breast cancer, and then in March 2013, a second lump grow, it was the size of the pea and the first one that I had grown that started up about the small the size of a shooter marble and grown about to that big the size of a golf ball and I told my family and I told my sister you know I am not going to be another statistic. 

I am now going to die because nobody will listen to me, so I took matters into my own hands.  I went to a completely different doctor and this doctor took me very seriously, so he wrote the order for a mammogram, so at the time once again, I still was uninsured, so we try to find funding through different resources here in San Antonio.  When I couldn’t find any resources, I had to sign up with the local hospital program that they offer to the community for people that are in lower socioeconomic statuses and through them I was able to get seen.  I went to a facility downtown and once again the radiologist said you know, you are too young, you don’t have a family history, so we are just going to do an ultrasound and I was really upset with that, but I just said okay let’s do another ultrasound, so they did it, but this time it was different because the radiologist came in and she says you know we are going to go ahead and do the mammogram and right then in there I knew what was going to happen and I knew what they were going to tell me, so they did a mammogram and something that had never happened before happen during the mammogram.  There was discharge. 

It was bloody and they had just stopped the mammogram so that they could actually wipe everything that was coming out from my nipple something that had never happened in all the time that I had the lumps, so then I went back to the room and the head radiologist came in and she said after doing your ultrasound and your mammogram, I see some very concerning spots and I need you to come in as soon as possible, so pushed back her whole day so that I could be her first patient that she saw the very next day. 

On Wednesday, I came in and they did a biopsy and one each of the tumors and then a spot underneath a lymph node underneath my arm and then by Friday May 17, 2013 the same radiologist from a different facility from the very first facility, the same person that had told me no you don’t have breast cancer, she was the one who came in to talk to me and my mother and she told me yes you have breast cancer.  I cried, tears felt in my eyes and when I talked to her I asked do you know who I am and she said yeah I think I remember your case and I told her you know I am not crying because I am sad because of my diagnosis, I am crying because I am frustrated and this is such a relief to know that I am not crazy and that finally everything that I have known everybody knows now that what I have been saying is true and so I told her you know after today I am not going to cry anymore because I know that its time for me to fight and after that I didn’t cry anymore. 

Because it was through a hospital program, I ended up wrecking up from Tuesday to Friday $10,000 bill that wasn’t going to be covered by anybody.  I would have to pay out-of-pocket.  The day that I got my diagnosis Rosemary Grabo with University Hospital help me to sign up for the medicate for Breast Cancer and Cervical Cancer Services, so ever since then my treatment, my medications, ER visits, and doctor visits all of that is covered by medicate, but because of that $10,000 bill I was getting letters to my house, so I decided to team up with the blood donor services and the CareLink program at University Hospital and I did a blood drive for each person that will donate blood in my name it would be a $15 credit towards my $10,000 bill. 

It took me about one to two months to get 667 people to donate blood and completely take care of my bill, so my balance became zero and so now as a breast cancer patient and survivor what I try to do is find another breast cancer patients that were in my similar position without insurance, without any kind of financial help, so that I could set a blood drives so that they can also have their bill become zero and I also go out in to the community and I talk to different schools and business to a verity of people men and women children all ages because I want to educate people on the changing face of breast cancer and let them know that it is possible for you to be diagnosed with breast cancer uninsured and for you to get through to it and to live and to go on with your life.  I think that its important to give these people hope and to give them that knowledge so if they have a lump and they are sacred because their doctor just missed as nothing to give them that courage to keep fighting for their life because what I tell people is you have one life and one body and what you choose to do with it and what you choose do on this earth it depends on how hard you will fight because you have to fight for your life if you want to live on this earth.