Surviving Breast Cancer: A Mom’s Story

Meet an amazing wife & mom who has overcome Breast Cancer!  Haley Bray Skaggs, is cancer free and living her best life! Here’s her story….

On December 16, 2015, I had taken off work to go do some Christmas shopping with a friend. I was in the shower getting ready for the day.  I was washing with a bar of soap, and by accident I felt a lump in my right breast. At first I thought it was fluke, so I felt some more. It felt like a skittle. I knew instantly, and dropped to my knees. I was 34 years old with a three year old son. This couldn’t be, my baby needs his momma!

The next day I met with my nurse practitioner, who didn’t think it was cancer but made the referral for the mammogram. I shared the news with my family and of course they were concerned but everyone believed it was just a cyst and not cancer.  Deep in my heart I knew… I knew I had breast cancer, and I was scared.

On December 31, 2015 I went and had the mammogram, and immediately afterwards they brought me into another room for an ultrasound. A few minutes later the doctor came in and said you need to have this biopsied right away. I went home and shared the news with my mom, and she called my uncle who is a doctor. He made some calls and the next week I was scheduled to meet with Dr. Klimberg at UAMS in Little Rock.

January 7, 2016, is a day I will never forget. My mom and I left early in the morning for Little Rock, she was having a procedure to remove a melanoma from her leg (my family is cancer rich). After her procedure we head a across town to UAMS… and on the way we get into a wreck!  We finally make it to the hospital and meet with Klimberg, who looks at the mammogram and calls in her team to do the biopsy. At 6:40pm we got the results, and there I was three weeks after finding the lump, I was told I had breast cancer! Dr. Klimberg opens a book and begins to tell me and show me how lumpectomies had come such a long way.  I instantly stopped her and informed her that taking both breast would be the only option I would consider. She told me I had probably just saved my own life!

Exactly one week later, I met with the oncologist, and he explained how the next year of my life was going to be handled.  He then asked if I had any kids, and did I want to have more? After doing the math, I decided not to harvest eggs. I felt at that moment my job was to stay alive for my son, the sooner I started treatment the better.

A week later my port was put in and treatment began. Dr. Makhoul told me my hair would fall out on the 13th if it was going to, and on the 14th day my husband and son shaved my head for me. I was scheduled for 17 treatments, and the first 6 were called “The Big Guns”. They were not joking, with each of those 6 treatments the recovery got harder. I was sicker for longer periods of time.  I have never felt a sick like ‘chemo’ sick. All I could do was lay in my chair, and pray for it all to pass. Which it did! I finished the 6th treatment, recovered, and then prepared for surgery.

On June 24, 2016, I underwent a bilateral mastectomy.  After surgery, Klimberg told me she didn’t see any sign of the tumor during removal. June 29, 2016, I got the call telling me that the chemo had worked 100% which meant my chances of recurrence decreased and my chances of survival increased!  I HAD BEAT IT!! I finished my treatments, and began the reconstruction process. During that time, I fought infections which added surgeries. Two months later, I opted to have a total hysterectomy due to my hormones. I wanted to do as much as possible to ensure the cancer wouldn’t come back.

March 2017, I finished my final treatment!!!! & October 2018, I’m a Survivor!  I have learned so much from having cancer… I am stronger than I ever imagined, I kicked cancers butt, while raisinga child and working through it all!  I had students to teach and I needed to show them when times are tough you keep going and you don’t give up. I also learned that I have a support system that is OUT OF THIS WORLD!  My family, school, community rallied for me! I had people I didn’t even know offering to help me in any way they could. I gave up my breast, my hair, my uterus and ovaries, and all modesty, but I never lost my faith!  God carried me, and everyday I wake up and thank him for the wonderful life he has given me!

-Haley Bray Skaggs