“Advocate for yourself.”
Dominque McQueen felt a lump in her breast in the middle of the night as she was turning over in bed.
“It was scary,” she said. “It kinda felt like my world stopped for a minute.”
She spent the rest of the night on her phone Googling for answers.
“I looked up non-cancerous lumps, but I knew what it was.”
The next day, Dominique called her primary care doctor who was able to get her in the very next day for a mammogram which was great since it was the week before Christmas. She also had an ultrasound and biopsy done.
She said she’s had a couple of family members die from cancer so she was immediately fearful when she got the news.
It was 2019 and she was only 32 years old when she was diagnosed with Stage 3B triple negative breast cancer. She said it very hard telling her mom and sister.
Two weeks later, she started treatment which consisted of 16 rounds of chemotherapy, a lumpectomy, 30 rounds of radiation and six cycles of a chemo pill. She said she lost her hair and ended up with lopsided breasts. She said the chemo wasn’t terrible, but she hated the radiation.
“It exhausted me. It literally burned my skin off,” she said.
Dominique had a very supportive family, and also found comfort in Facebook groups and the Aurora BayCare Breast Cancer Support Group. She had a nurse navigator through BayCare who went to appointments with her and was her first call if she needed anything.
She ended up having a breast reduction and lift. Her hair texture also changed; it’s a lot curlier now. She said everyone talks about the physical effects of cancer, but there’s a whole mental effect too.
“You’re not the same person you were before, and there’s no way you can be,” said Dominique.
Her advice to women in the community is to definitely get your mammograms and do your monthly self-breast exam.
“I know this is something we tell our doctor that we do when we go in for a physical, but please just do it,” she said. “Just in the shower, and if something feels off, go to the doctor. Advocate for yourself.”
For people going through breast cancer right now, Dominique said your feelings are valid even if they may seem silly.
“Let yourself feel the feelings, just try not to wallow there. And, if you have a caretaker that you feel is being overbearing, let them [take care of you]. That’s the only way they may be able to help you,” she said.
She also recommends therapy. She said that was the one place where she could let her emotions out and cry, because she didn’t want her family to be burdened with that.
Dominque has been cancer-free for four years now!
Born and raised in Milwaukee, she moved here in 2013. She is a Contract Manager at Schneider and enjoys reading, watching tv, working out, babysitting and going for walks.
Her plans for the future are to purchase a house and celebrate her 40th birthday in Paris!
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