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Amanda Nelson still isn't sure which was harder: learning she had breast cancer just days before Christmas or delivering the news to her four young children, including her 7-year-old twins.
"I didn't want to upset the kids during the holidays," Nelson recalled. "So I waited and told them all they needed to know — that I had something in my body that needed to be taken out, I needed medication and I would have a lot of doctor's appointments."
Nelson was 42 years old when she was diagnosed with stage 2a triple negative breast cancer. With her children and her part-time librarian job in the Chula Vista Elementary School District keeping her busy, Nelson never imagined she'd battle breast cancer when she went in for a routine mammogram. When she received follow-up phone calls from her doctor telling her she needed an ultrasound and breast biopsy, Nelson remained unfazed as a friend had recently experienced the same series of events and received a negative cancer diagnosis.
"Then my doctor sat me down, put her hand on my knee and said 'I'm so sorry,'" Nelson remembered. "I was stunned, but my nature in a crisis is to spring into action, not fall apart."
Nelson also attended a "Meet the Pathologist" session at Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center and credits the information she received from Sharp-affiliated pathologist Dr. Omid Bakhtar with helping her make many important decisions about her treatment.
"I was lucky because I never got sick," Nelson said. "I started going to Sharp Chula Vista's weekly breast cancer support group, which helped me understand what to expect."
Almost a year later, Nelson is finished with her treatments and happy to see her hair growing back. More importantly, though, she's glad to be back to a new normal.
"I'm a huge advocate for early detection now," Nelson said. "A mammogram saved my life, so I tell everyone that it could save theirs, too."
Find a San Diego Oncologist
The Douglas & Nancy Barnhart Cancer Center at Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center is now open. To find a Sharp-affiliated doctor, search for a San Diego oncologist specializing in breast cancer or call 1-800-82-SHARP (1-800-827-4277), Monday through Friday, 8 am to 6 pm.