In 2009, life was good. I was a healthy, happy young woman about to turn 40. I felt great on many levels and was in great shape. At the time though, I was surrounded by women who had been recently diagnosed with breast cancer. Even though I had no reason to suspect something was wrong with me, I scheduled my first mammogram.

Surprisingly, the results came in and something wasn’t right. I had calcifications. I had a biopsy, which showed I had a non-invasive form of breast cancer. Scary, but manageable. The findings concerned my surgeon though, so more tests were ordered. First an MRI, then an ultrasound guided biopsy. The tests were coming so fast, I knew this wasn’t just some form of pre-cancer anymore. Instead, it was stage II, at best. More results came in, and now, I was told a double mastectomy was next. In the end, I was diagnosed with stage 3 triple positive breast cancer. Chemo was next. How was this possible? I was healthy, it wasn’t in my family…life had been so perfect. None of this made any sense.

Only five weeks went by between my routine mammogram, my extensive range of tests, my surgery and my final diagnosis with stage 3 breast cancer. Five terrible weeks that would change me forever, but ultimately save my life.

I ran the gamut at Jefferson Radiology. Multiple sites, endless procedures and every single person I came into contact with was kind, supportive, knowledgeable and absolutely amazing at keeping a young, advanced cancer patient calm and focused, when mostly, I just wanted to scream or cry or both. They helped me to look ahead and know that the goal, in the end, was my life…and seven years after my diagnosis, I owe it to them and my oncology team. I wouldn’t be here without them.

Although every staff member at Jefferson Radiology was amazing, Dr. Hallisey in particular, with his kind ways, gentle touch and amazing skill, made the procedures and my treatment bearable. He took his time, made me laugh, but mostly, he cared.

It’s 2016 now, and thanks to Jefferson Radiology, life is good again. If there is one thing I can say about my story, it’s that you never know. I still have trouble reconciling how beneath my seemingly perfect life, something so dark could be hiding in the shadows. Get your screenings early, and make sure those shadows are brought into the light.

Click here to watch  Melissa on Melissa Maniscalco, Breast Cancer Survivor, featured on NBC Connecticut Spotlight

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