According to breastcancer.org, hundreds of thousands of women are diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States each year.
In 2017, Greenville resident Mandy Messerli was one of those women.
“In 2017 I was doing a self-breast exam and I found a lump,” said Messerli. “I sort of just chalked it off like it was something else or it was nothing. I knew I had my annual physical coming up and so I told my OBGYN and he just started asking all these pointed questions about cancer and history in my family.”
At the time Messerli was just 36 years old with a husband and a two-year-old daughter.
“When I was first diagnosed, that was my first fear is that the treatment plan wouldn’t work,” said Messerli. “That…my daughter would grow up not knowing me. That’s a big fear for a lot of people.”
After being diagnosed, Messerli allowed her fears to come.
She feared her daughter wouldn’t know her as a mom, that she wouldn’t be able to leave behind a legacy.
I think anytime anyone gets a diagnosis of any type of cancer or what have you, the biggest fear is that I’m not going to be here anymore.”Mandy Messerli
But, she ultimately decided she would not her fears overtake her.
She started a Facebook group called Positivity with a side of cancer to keep friends and family updated and to spread positivity while undergoing treatment.
“It’s really easy to go to the dark side and to be really negative,” said Messerli. “For me, I wanted to be really positive about my experience and educate others.”
Messerli was open with her treatment plan to allow others to take a look on the inside.
She underwent 16 weeks of chemotherapy, radiation, and a variety of other surgeries and procedures during the two years.
Messerli says she looked at her treatments like a checklist.
“If I went to chemo and then a doctor’s appointment and did this and did that, then I would be ok,” said Messerli.
Messerli describes herself as a spiritual and religious person.
She says her Sunday school teacher has always told her she has a lot of faith and she agrees.
Messerli understands during the hard times, she understands people pull towards their faith.
“I definitely think that my faith has increased, but I still questioned my faith a little bit just knowing like…why was I…why did I get cancer? I’ll probably never know the answer to that,” said Messerli.
Being diagnosed with cancer gives you options like how to deal with a treatment plan and what to do next.
Messerli says she’s a fighter at heart and knew she had to be her own biggest advocate.
“You have to be a fighter when you’re battling cancer. You do. Because otherwise, it could very easily tear you down,” said Messerli.
“I just wasn’t going to let that happen. I wasn’t going to let the cancer win. I was going to win. And I did.”
Messerli rang the bell on September 22, 2017, to signify the completion of active treatment, but she is not in the clear quite yet.
Currently, Messerli still attends physical therapy, regular doctor appointments and is dealing with some residual issues from the chemo and radiation therapies.
Looking to the future, Messerli wants to continue to educate people about cancer, treatment, and planning.
She is living a happy life with her now 4-year-old daughter, her husband, her family, and her friends.