Breast Cancer Awareness Interview with Lorielle (Transcribed)

Me:  Hi Lorielle!

Lorielle:  Hi!

Me: How are you?

Lorielle: I’m doing well. How are you?

Me: I’m good thank you.  

Me: So I just wanted to thank you for agreeing to do the Breast Cancer Awareness interview with Mademoiselle Mackenzie Cosmetics.  We really do appreciate it.

Lorielle: No problem.

Me: So everybody I just want to introduce Lorielle.  She is a breast cancer survivor and also the owner of “Pretty Brown Box”.  If you just want to explain to everybody what it is that you do with Pretty Brown Box.

Lorielle:  So pretty much I make gifts for special occasions.  The boxes are custom made for birthdays, holidays, Christmas gifts, engagement gifts, wedding gifts.  It’s a lot. So pretty much the idea is if you need a gift and don’t really have a lot of time that’s pretty much where we come in and cover that aspect.

Me:  That’s wonderful!  I know a lot of people like customized gifts that make them feel like the gift is for them and just from off a shelf.

Lorielle:  Exactly, exactly !

Me:  I wanted to interview you in regards to being a breast cancer survivor.  Congratulations!

Lorielle:  Thank you!

Me:  You’re welcome

Me:  I have a few questions and they ar based off of the Susan G. Komen website.  So let me start off just by asking you, When were you diagnosed and at what age?

Lorielle:  So I was diagnosed around Thanksgiving when I was 24 years old.  I found out literally when I was flying out to visit family for Thanksgiving.  Sooo yeahh ( chuckles )

Me: And what stage were you diagnosed with?

Lorielle: So it was Stage 1.  There are different variations.  I don’t remember the specific variation but it was Stage 1.

Me: How was the cancer initially detected?

Lorielle:  Ironically, I guess I was feeling a little touchy feely one day. I don’t know it’s weird because I don’t do self breast exams.  I didn’t do breast exams as I should. I never had my breast looked at our examined until I went for my pap smear. Um I happened to notice it.  I noticed that there was a lump. I was do for an annual pap smear not long after I noticed it and I mentioned it to my doctor. He said, “Umm you’re young and you don’t have a history of breast cancer so it’s probably just a cyst.”  I was pretty chill about it. I didn’t really, wasn’t really alarmed about it because he said it was probably just a cyst.

Lorielle:  He sent me to have an ultrasound done and then I went back to my gynecologist.  So the results came back as abnormal. He said we are going to do a biopsy, I went to a surgeon and he said we are going to the biopsy the same day. I waited a couple of days and got a call back that the results did come back malignant and that was indeed cancer.  So that’s how I found out.

Me:  How did you feel when you received the news?  

Lorielle:  Like  it was the end of the world. It was, I don’t know, I hadn’t dealt with cancer so closely.  That same year my father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. That was the first time I dealt with cancer so close to the family so for he to be dealing with..  And then for me to go 7 months later and for me to find out that I also had cancer, It was a lot. Kind of like in the movies when they get the news and they’re zoning out, black out.  That’s pretty much what happened. I’m like Oh my God, like my future is over and I am not going to be able to have kids, like it’s over. I couldn’t, like I couldn’t see past that moment.  Like I couldn’t see how that could happen or even thought that would be a struggle I would ever have to deal with. Being young and just kind of being invincible, not really dealing with much health related and now having to deal with cancer.  It was really a lot. It was pretty devastating at first but I had a good support system around so I was able to get through it.

Me: So when you say your support team who does that include?

Lorielle:  It includes my mom.  She was, I’m her only child so she was always super over protective and super hands on with anything that I did.  So this was an opportunity for her to come in and really be there for me. I had friends that literally came in from New York who flew in the day I was having my surgery.  I had a really good network of people who was around me just helping me. My church was also very prevalent in supporting me, praying for me, and checking in on me. I had a lot of help.

Me: That’s wonderful!  So how was your treatment process?  What did that consist of and for how long?  

Lorielle:  So the treatment was actually the part that was pretty grueling.  It was recommended that I do a lumpectomy. That where they remove the tumor and the tissues surrounding the tumor.  They take out one of the lymph nodes that could also be compromised. I had that done in December which was about a month after I was diagnosed I had the surgery.  And then I was scheduled to do chemotherapy on February 14th of 2014. On Valentine’s day I went for my first chemo treatment. I went through six rounds of chemo. I think it was every 3 or 4 weeks that I had to go.  I started in February and I ended in May. Shortly after May I did radiation therapy. I would go in for a quick treatment I would say for 6 weeks. Lumpectomy, chemotherapy and radiation was my treatment plan. In addition to that, in terms of the monitoring aspect of that now, I have to go get a mammogram every 6 months and a CT Scan every 6 months.  I am also on hormone therapy for 10 years. So that it my latest treatment. The intense part lasted like a year and still the maintenance of that and hoping it is not going to come back.

Me:  Were there any programs or services offered to you that helped with the treatment process along the way?

Lorielle:  There were support groups offered by the doctor’s office that I was getting therapy at.  Other than that, there weren’t many other services that I was aware of at the time. Just a couple that were recommended through my doctor’s office.  I know at one point I was trying to get financial support because that time was a really trying time. I had to take a lot of time off from work which was really affecting my pay. I applied for like a scholarship, a medical scholarship.  I was declined. Thankfully I had some other support that came in for me to deal with that. Outside of that there weren’t many services. I did seek therapy on my own. I did it through my job and I would get five free therapy sessions within this network every year.  Like I said my father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer shortly before me. He passed away before I could even start chemotherapy. In turns of just turmoil and a lot at one time I needed help. I went to see a therapist and that therapy helped me to rationalize things.  It was a pretty difficult time. Therapy pretty much helped.

Me:  That’s good to hear that you had that to go to.  Wow. Just to wrap it up, what message do you have to give to the women of the community.  You have such a different, unique and amazing story, journey as well. What do you want to tell the women out there, of any age?

Lorielle:   The main thing I would say is that if you feel like something is not right go to the doctor.  My mom was always. Like I was the only child so she was super hands on with everything. If I was coughing for too many days or if I was complaining for too many days she would make me go to the doctor.  That was always something that followed me going into college. I knew after a certain time if something wasn’t right I would feel comfortable going to the doctor. Going to the doctor I built a report with my gynecologist which led me to feel like my treatment went really well.  Like I trusted the individuals that were offering treatment to me. I would definitely say get medical help if you feel something isn’t right. Definitely go sooner than later. Another factor in my situation was that it was detected early. I am a huge, huge, huge cheerleader for doing self breast examinations consistently.  Getting to know how your breast tissue feels. A lot of times women have thick breast tissues and they are not sure and they get paranoid when they think it’s a lump and it’s really not. Being familiar with their breast and with their bodies. For me I don’t normally feel my breast but I just happened to feel that lump one day. Another thing that I was say is, when you’re faced with situations that just kind of seem insurmountable and you literally have no idea how in the world you’re going to get through that situation, I am a firm believer in God.  I believe that He comes in and He gives us the grace to get through the situation. That was a very dark time for me and looking back on it I really have no idea how I was able to look back at it through all of that and still go to work. I am a high school teacher full time. Being there as a teacher and dealing with that and teenagers when I have a lot going on in my personal life. I don’t know how looking back at it that I was able to make it through. I know that God gives us grace when we are not able to do it ourselves. He comes in like a flood and helps us.  I am a firm believer in that when you’re not sure and you don’t have any human direction on your end. There’s no one around you who can relate or really understand what you’re going through. God is always there for us and He comes in like a flood. I guess that’s my little testimony.

Me:  Well, Amen to that because there’s nothing like going through a journey and just standing strong at the end.  Your story, your testimony, I’m pretty sure will be such an inspiration and has already been one to so many other individuals.  I think a lot of times when we tell our stories we don’t know how impacting and powerful it is for the next person who needs to hear it not knowing they need to hear it.  Thank you for courage. Thank you for your time.

Lorielle:  No problem

Me:  Thank you for answering the questions.  I thank you! Mademoiselle Mackenzie thanks you! We wish you the best and thank you again.

Lorielle:  Thank you for having me!  I love all that you’re doing! I love your brand and I really appreciate the time of you taking the time to talk to me.  

Me:  Thank you! Thank you! You’re welcome! I’ll talk to you soon!

Lorielle:  Alright, take care!

Me: Alright, you too! Bye!