TCU alumna shares her story as a survivor of breast cancer

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One TCU alumna is reflecting on her experiences with breast cancer during its annual month of awareness this year.

October might mean pumpkins, candy and Halloween for most, but it’s also a time for reflection, awareness and education on breast cancer.

Haleigh Curlee, a TCU alumna, was diagnosed with stage two breast cancer at 24 years old after she was experiencing chest pains due to a tumor on a nerve.

She was diagnosed on a Friday and had about 10 meetings with doctors the next week. The doctors came up with a plan to do 16 chemotherapy sessions, 28 radiation sessions and have a double mastectomy.

“When you’re that young, and you go through something that physically and emotionally, I feel like it alters you,” Curlee said. “The physical changes that it did to my body really threw me off because when you’re 24 years old, you’re supposed to be at the peak of your life, you’re having a great time, you’re supposed to be feeling really good about yourself, and then, I went through and lost all of my hair, I had to get a double mastectomy, and it kind of changes your self-view.”

Haleigh Curlee lost her hair due to cancer treatment. Photo courtesy of Haleigh Curlee)

On Nov. 13, she will celebrate her one-year anniversary of being done with treatment.

After being pronounced cancer-free in July, Curlee is approaching this month differently than in years past. She still feels as though she has not fully accepted what has happened to her but wants to use this month to spread awareness and to educate, especially to young people.

“I would really like to educate and make aware of the situation because I don’t think a lot of people know how many people it affects,” Curlee said. “It is a time of reflection for me, and I feel like I have been trying to be really thankful of everything that my body, my family, my friends and I did last year.”

More than 276,000 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in women in 2020, according to the American Cancer Society.

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women, but the number of cases can decline with early detection. The National Breast Cancer Foundation recommends doing a self-exam once a month.