DENVER — A 30-year-old Denver nurse is now undergoing her own battle with cancer after discovering a lump in her breast.
"It really turned my life upside down, pretty much overnight," said Holly McCabe, a nurse at Saint Joseph Hospital.
McCabe was working with oncology patients one day when she saw a young woman ring the bell to signal the end of her chemotherapy journey. The experience prompted her to go home and examine herself.
"I actually went home and checked my breasts, and found a lump in my right breast," she said.
McCabe went to see a doctor right away.
"I was actually on the oncology floor again," said the nurse. "And they called me and told me that I had triple-negative breast cancer, which means that I would need chemotherapy first right away."
Breast cancer is the second most common cancer among women in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Triple-negative breast cancer means the cancer cells don't have estrogen or progesterone. The cancer tends to "grow and spread faster, has fewer treatment options, and tends to have a worse prognosis (outlook)," according to the American Cancer Society.
TNBC accounts for 10% to 15% of all breast cancers and primarily impacts women younger than 40, who are Black or have a BRCA1 mutation, according to the American Cancer Society.
"The biology of breast cancer, when it occurs in a younger woman, it tends to be much more aggressive. It can grow quickly," said Dr. Heather West, the breast cancer lead at Denver Health.
Doctors traditionally suggest that women should get mammograms beginning at age 40. But West says women of all ages should practice breast awareness. If you find an abnormality, reach out to your doctor.
"That's the biggest thing that I tell all women is that you have to be an advocate. You have to have the courage (to speak out) when you know that something is not right with your body," said nurse Katrina Little M.S.N., a lecturer at MSU Denver.
McCabe is now using her TikTok account to share her experience and help fellow cancer patients.
"I want to be able to connect with others if they have this diagnosis or anything like it," she said in one of her videos. "If you want to follow along, I’ll be sharing."
Denver7 Gives is collecting funds to help McCabe through her cancer battle. If you would like to donate, visit Denver7 Gives and select "Help Holly As She Battles Breast Cancer."
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