In Loving
Memory of Nalie

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Nalie was only 24 when she was first diagnosed with cancer. She helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for cancer and started sharing her journey with mBC online to help raise awareness.

This is Nalie’s story.

Diagnosis: I was a young, active, healthy 24-year-old – rarely sick, very athletic, always training – and suddenly I found lumps in my left breast. I went for a general check-up but overall, the feeling was that the lumps were normal; that women in their twenties have lumpy breasts due to hormones or periods or that it could be a fibroadenoma or a cyst. But I was told to get checked anyway and was given a referral paper. But because nobody was really stressed about it, I didn’t put it as a priority. I did call the referral number but was almost immediately told they don’t give mammograms to women under 40. So I thought: ‘Oh, okay. If you don’t give mammograms to women under 40, then I obviously don’t have anything serious.’

A year passed, I went to my family doctor again and she asked if I got checked. I told her what happened, and she said, ‘I didn’t say mammogram,’ and she circled and highlighted the word ultrasound. That’s how oblivious and uneducated I was about breast cancer. I didn’t even know you could do a breast ultrasound. And that’s when I showed my mom the referral paper and we went to a private clinic to get checked immediately. The ultrasound results were immediately suspicious, so they made me come back the next day for a biopsy and then one test led to another… and I was told I had stage two breast cancer – at 24 years old. So, I went through a treatment plan: chemo, mastectomy and then radiation.

Treatment: I knew nothing about chemotherapy, nothing about what a mastectomy was, nothing about radiation – I was really just taking it one day at a time. Not knowing much about cancer, I was just going with the flow. I thought, ‘well okay, this is my fight.’ I love sports and that’s how I saw it, almost like a tournament. You have to go one game at a time until you reach the finish line. And that was my mentality. I completed all treatments and had a total mastectomy so the whole affected area was removed, and I crossed that finish line in 2014. I was ‘cancer free.’ I was thrilled.

I celebrated. I did everything I wanted to do. I travelled, I wrote an e-book about going through chemotherapy for younger women because I felt there was hardly any information out there they could relate to. I got involved. I documented and shared my entire cancer journey online in blog posts and videos. I joined social media campaigns to get women of all ages to start doing self-exams at the first of every month. I helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for cancer research by running the 5k Run for the Cure for the past four years. I just wanted to do whatever I could to raise awareness, give back and live my dreams – which is where The Nalie Show came from.

I’ve always wanted my own talk show. I just wanted to show that everyone, from every walk of life, is going through their own battles and we need to live life to the fullest. We need to be grateful for life and focus on the great things we have instead of complaining about the things we don’t. I just wanted to prove to people that we all have struggles, but we can overcome them if we change our perspective and seize the beauty in our battles.

Diagnosis: So everything was going great and 2017 was supposed to be my lucky year; this is the year that all my dreams were going to come true. Then on January 6th I went to the emergency room – my boyfriend forced me to go – because I had this persistent dry cough that just wouldn’t go away. Again, I didn’t think anything of it – I was cancer free – it was three years later. I was training again, I was regaining my strength and my hair had grown back. I was sent for an x-ray and they found that my lungs were covered with little nodules everywhere. That’s when I was told, once again, that I had cancer, and it was metastatic.

Living with mBC: I had only seen the word metastatic on social posts commemorating women who had passed away. I thought my life was over. This was it. I was going to die at 28. One of the biggest things I’ve learned living with mBC is the huge perception gap in society, and even within the cancer community itself, between earlier stages breast cancer and metastatic breast cancer. They are not the same thing. They are two completely different cancers, journeys and mindsets. The beauty of sharing my initial journey online was that so many people reached out to me – people who have been battling metastatic cancer for the past 10 or 15 years.

To me that means there is hope, and I want to be the one who proves that. I’ve now done six rounds of chemo and have great results with my scans – my lungs were covered in nodules and now only have a few spots left. With the first diagnosis, I embraced life to the fullest. I’m still doing that, only now, it’s times a million.
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