The ‘Breast’ of A Bad Situation

*scratch disc*

*freeze frame*

I bet you’re all wondering how I got here.
It all started about 2 months ago when I found a lump in my right breast. 

Hi! My name is Kelli Yam. I grew up in a pretty quiet town, Lexington, NC, but I currently stay in Greensboro, NC. I’ve lived a pretty normal life honestly, as normal as a 21 year old can get, but I knew I wanted to be different. With that in mind, being a rare statistic wasn’t really what I was thinking. On November 1st, I got a phone call, and they told me something I didn’t even think was a possibility. The lady (wonderful Nurse Lin) on the phone told me I had breast cancer. The word “shocked” doesn’t even come close to how I felt. We cried on the phone together for a bit because words wouldn’t come out, but there were so many thoughts running through my head. 

“How can I ever afford treatment?”

”How do I tell my friends and family?”

”What did I do to deserve this?”

”What will my future be like?”

“Is this just a really bad prank?”

It wasn’t a prank. It was the terrifying truth. It’s still hard for me to fathom that this is really happening to me. I know life is full of hardships, but I wasn’t prepared for this one. I like to think I’m pretty tough, but honestly I’m a little scared. Before I even thought about my health, my main concern was entirely fiscal, but I knew if I wanted to live, I would have to make it work. After further testing, it was established that I was at stage 1B triple positive. Even though it sucked being diagnosed in general, I was lucky enough to have caught it during a highly treatable stage. Traditionally, we hear about the numbered stages; the letters help to categorize it a bit more specifically. With stage 1B cancer, it hasn’t yet metastasized to my lymph nodes, but it has grown to be about/at least 2 centimeters. What triple positive means is that during my biopsy, estrogen receptors, progesterone receptors, and HER2 were all found in my tumor. This being said, my options for treatment are a little more viable. The chances for a 21 year old to get breast cancer are “astronomically rare,” as my doctor told me, and she’s right. I did some research of my own. Apparently, cases of breast cancer for women under 40 only run about 5% of all cases. 

What I’d really to emphasize is the urgency that any woman at any age monitor their health and wellness, especially when it comes to our breasts. I first had lumps appear three years ago when I was 19. My doctor told me, “they’re just caffeine deposits,” and I’ve come to find out that that doesn’t even exist. I am a firm believer that one of the reasons about 30% of women under the age 40 lose their battle to breast cancer is due to unawareness. A lot of young people are looked past due to their age because it isn’t “likely.” Mammograms aren’t recommended until at least the age of 35 due to the physical state of our breast tissue, and it’s also one of the reasons breast cancer is caught at later stages for younger women. Technology is being worked on to target them as well now that breast cancer is a growing concern. 

“That would never happen to me.”

It can. It happened to me. Please everyone, love your bodies and treat it kindly!!!

I honestly don’t know what to do because due to chemo, I won’t be able to work, which will take a toll on me mentally, physically, and financially. At this point in time, I fully support myself. With that being said, I don’t make enough to pay for my living expenses and treatment at the same time. I recently got health insurance through my job, but haven’t reached my high deductible. I’ve been advised to apply for grants and seek any monetary assistance. I don’t want this to be a sad story. As I’ve been saying, “it is what it is,” and the best thing to do is keep looking forward. I look forward to smiling with everyone once I beat it! Please help me to afford my treatment as well as my living expenses. Any dollar, share, or comment of positivity will help!

Thank you guys for any love and support! 

Treatment plan:
6 rounds of chemo (TCHP)

1 month of rest 


4-6 weeks of radiation

transfusions of Perjeta and Herceptin till Nov. 2020


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Kelli Yam 
Greensboro, NC
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