A little over six months ago, Christie Nesrallah went in for her annual checkup with her doctor.
“My gynecologist thought it was a cyst, and she wanted me to get an MRI," said Christie
But, as a working mom of two, finding time to go in was difficult.
"I really didn't think there was anything to be concerned about, I was busy with life," said Christie
A month later, she would find time to get the MRI and then a biopsy.
“We knew what was happening, even though they told us it was nothing...I’m a physician, so i know more than i should know about these things. Before the biopsy we were pretty positive, it was going to be positive.” says Fadi Nesrallah, Christie's husband
Both Christie and her husband are in the medical field, so after seeing the biopsy, they knew.
“Invasive Lobular Carcinoma,” says Christie
Stage three breast cancer.
“We thought it was going to be Stage 2, once I had the lymph node dissection they found out I had a lot more that were positive," explained Christie, "that’s when they staged me at a [Stage] 3, that was scary for me. It brought me down a little.”
Just like any man or woman who had just received the devastating news, Christie's spirits were brought down, but not for long.
“I said if this is what it is, it’s what it is and I have to deal with it, and go on. Yes, there was some sadness, it was short lived.” said Christie
Her husband Fadi by her side each step of the way.
"In a few days, I knew more than I wanted to know, I researched to prepare ourselves for what was coming," says Fadi
For Christie what was coming next, is something she was ready for.
“Continuing the normal routine, going to work, my assignments, my kids the same old same old, routine," says Christie, "I think that’s what has helped me get through it is continuing my life as i was before.”
Continuing her routine and making the best of things, even when it got hard, through chemotherapy...
"I’m amazed how she tolerated it and how positive she is.” says Fadi.
Even getting their girls involved in a difficult situation, in hopes of making it easier.
“We let our kids cut it, and shave it. I started losing it after the second treatment I told them when I first got diagnosed I would let them cut my hair," says Christie, "They did little Edward scissor hands and we shaved it all off, it was much easier to deal with.”
A situation that most find difficult to deal with Christie and her family found ways to make easier.
According to Texas Oncology, 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. Which means 1 in 8 spouses are affected as well.
“You're not the one who’s got the diagnoses, you have to be supportive of your spouse, even though you’re being torn apart from the inside. You have to be strong.”
And over six months of battle, Christie's strength inspired her husband Fadi and others.
"Her strength pushed over to me, because she is the strongest person I know.” says Fadi
Her strength and willingness to fight an internal battle is what got her where she is today, ringing the bell on her last day of chemotherapy, something she's been ready for.
“I'm just happy to be done with this phase, my next step is radiation, I have a few more steps to go through before I can be hopefully done with my cancer journey.” says Christie
A journey she knows isn't over, but hopes can help others going through the same thing, hope.
"I would say to any person who’s battling cancer, the most important thing is to try to live your life the way you did before. Have a support system,there's lot so people here in the area, that have cancer, that are coming to this facility. You can meet people in the waiting room that are going through the same thing." says Christie, "I’ve met a few people out and about, they see my scarves and just kinda question me. Then they say I’m your sister, I had breast cancer, I’m a survivor, almost brings tears to my eyes.”
This Breast Cancer Awareness Month, not only should you bring awareness to the issue, but help those celebrate the wins, no matter the size.