Samantha Harris' Breast Cancer Survival Journey
Samantha Harris' Breast Cancer Survival Journey
Five weeks ago, Samantha Harris underwent a double mastectomy after being diagnosed with breast cancer. Samantha tells Billy Bush on Access Hollywood Live about her journey from finding a lump to recovery from her surgery. What factors led Samantha to choose a double mastectomy and what is her prognosis?
Five weeks ago, Samantha Harris underwent a double mastectomy. You discovered a lump during a simple self exam. She's recovering well. There is still a road ahead. Those are great photos. Last fall, what day was it? Well, in October, October 10th, I had a mammogram. Figured I'll be 40 in November, I should get a jump on this. And I'll set a baseline. Never had one before. Went in and I'm in the best shape I've ever been, I eat healthfully. And so there is no better time. And it came back clear as expected. And 11 days later changing clothes, I discovered a lump in my breast. Why did you do a self exam? I was changing clothes. I don't know. I think it's really important for women to be comfortable with their bodies and be able to know your body. And being healthy, eating right, exercising regularly helps you be more in tune with your body. So I noticed that something was there that wasn't there before. But anyway, I was concerned, but not the that concerned. Went to see my ob/gyn, she said it's nothing, sent me on my way. About a month later, still there. Going to go to my internist. Internist, yeah, not concerned. We'll keep an eye on it. Four months later, my mom kept saying good see a specialist, but I didn't go. And finally, I listened to the inner voice that said if I'm going to live with this, let's make sure it's truly nothing to worry about. And I had an mri and a needle biopsy, ultrasound, all said it's not cancer, but we're not sure, so let's take it out. So I had a lumpectomy. Sa it's not cancer. Week later, went back for the path results and got the news. Wow. By myself. Now, how long -- when you get this this news and everybody clears you and the voice in your head keeps bugging Y, are you thinking about this daily, weekly? How often is it nagging you? Every time I changed, which is at least once or twice a day, I would check. Is the lump there. I said to Michael, do you feel this? Yes, I do. So we knew something was different in the makeup of my breast. Because look, women can be are many other reasons you can have lumps. My doctor said it was glandular, just keep an eye on it. So all of that led me to say, okay, I need to make sure that I keep on this. And listen to your inner voice and don't take no for an answer. All we want is for someone in a white lab coat to say you are fine. Are you healthy. And I could have just gone and said great. My oncologist that did the lumpectomy said if I had been in yeshoes, I wouldn't have come to see me. But I talked to a lot of women now who are very supportive, a community of survivors, who said their doctors, as well, did not see or the mammogram did not see it. So you get this news. You were right in the end of it. Sadly. What is going on in your head at that point? Is it I got to fly into action, is it grief, is it let's go to war? What is it? First reaction was horrible anxiety, anxiousness. ING coursing through my veins. I lost my dad to cancer. I have two little girls who need their mommy around for a heck of a long time. And I do everything in my life. I drink kale smoothies for god sakes. I do everything right. So the first thing was just I feel awful. Physically, I just felt like an elephant on the chest, stomach in knots. And that was a terrible way to feel. And so after about four or five days of feeling like this after the diagnosis, I said, you know, take a deep breath, step back and I just really changed, a concerted effort to change my perspective and take a positive outlook and take control. So within a week and a half of the diagnosis, I had seen three surgical oncologists, two melon dical oncologists, get opinions. And I caught it early, so I had options. They were both very good options and we made a list of pros and cons. And actually the lumpectomy with radiation won out in the list of if for me it came done to a personal decision. I'm not a gambler. I want the best percentages. In respect. You'll take whatever you have to go through, whatever puts me in the best situation. Yes.to go through, whatever puts me in the best situation. Yes. Sit down. We'll talk more, how do you tell your kid, prognosis. So you get the double mastectomy. Surgery is over and they tell you that it has spread? I was told before the surgery there was no chance you'll be in chemo, we'll get it all out, done. And I woke up and my surgeon was standing over me with this heavy look on his face. And he said I'm really shocked, but I have to tell you that I had to take out all much your lymph nodes under my army. Thankfully it only went to one. Didn't let it pass through. Snosis is still great, but its the treatment to a whole new level. Some oncologists say the moment that it goes to the lymph node, it means chemotherapy. But the cancer was T being cancer that you could ever have. Broadway show cancer. But -- Always time for -- It is the best kind of cancer you can have. But it's in this weird gray area. Because it was in the lymph node, for almost six weeks post surgery, helping and hawing as to whether I need chemotherapy. So I'm still waiting. It's on the table. I've already gone ahead and there is something called penguin cold caps that can help prevent hair loss. Most people don't have much horn more than 30% shedding. So one less thing to explain to my girls if I can help it. So I'm trying to -- I was really bummed out about the idea and prospect, but if I need chemo, you have to look down the face of adversity and turn it into a positive. So if this plus a more money blocker is what will do it, I'll be be there for another 50 years. I will be. Good for you. Telling your 6-year-old and the 3-year-old, 3 I have to imagine that doesn't land. She just wants for be able to be picked up. When can you put me in my crib the regular way. But last night, I was putting her to bed and I come home from the surgeon follow-up and she said mommy, can you put me in the bed the regular way now? And I said I'm going to try. So I picked her up and held her. And it hurts a bit because things are all weird there right now, but it was good. Did the 6-year-old -- did it affect her? Our approach was very positive. Mama has to have surgery. There are two reasons. Either something is in there that doesn't need to be there and the surgeons take it out, which is like mommy, or like grandma, she had back surgery because she had something wrong and doctors fixed it. So mommy will be just fine, I'll be laying in bed for a little while. And I was in bed for a good 2 1/2 weeks straight. When I left the bed, it was to go to the doctor's appointment and right back to bed. So my body was resting, but my mind was going a mile a minute and I was creating with my husband a new website that will launch in the next few months that is about inspiring positivity in the face of adversity. And a children's book series based on the same thing to keep kids positivity when they're dealt a card they're not so happy with. You're something else. Way to go. Thanks. I'm trying. Really amazing story. Thank you for sharing it. It's important for women to take control of theiwn health, listen to their gut. And it's okay to play with the girls. Know them. They are your friends until they're not.