Continuing Main Street Fairview's month-long series featuring breast cancer survivors in our community, meet Brandi Maige.
October 21 has always been a special day for Brandi Maige. It happens to be her birthday, and it also happens to be her survival anniversary. That is the day each year that she gets to celebrate being a breast cancer survivor.
“I am super excited to celebrate my six-year survivorship this week (today). I graduated to having one-year check-ups now. Plus, being in remission over five years makes my chances of a reoccurrence go way down for which I am very thankful,” shared Brandi.
Her cancer story also began on October 21, 2014. “I was diagnosed actually on my 36th birthday,” Brandi began. Her diagnosis was Stage 2 with a 3.5 cm tumor.
Doing a self-exam, Brandi said, “I found my lump on my own and called my gynecologist and asked for an appointment. She then sent me for a mammogram and ultrasound…I knew the doctor concerns with how fast everything was happening with all the appointments.” Those appointments included two needle core biopsies, a PET Scan, then a breast MRI with in just a few weeks.
She was then placed into a research study for her cancer treatment.
She recalled easily the day the doctor confirmed from the biopsy that she did indeed have a malignant tumor. After the doctor shared the news and left the room, Brandi’s husband said, “I can’t wait to see how God is going to use you through this, baby.”
Shocked by his statement, she remembers thinking “What if I don’t want God to use me?” However, Brandi now sees that God did in fact have other plans.
Brandi is quick to say that walking through her cancer journey made her the person she is today. “I grew in my relationship with Jesus and have helped so many people walk though their journey and have encouraged them and gave them hope,” said Brandi.
She noted she had no family history of breast cancer and had even done the BRCA testing, a blood test to determine if you have mutations in your DNA that increase the risk of breast cancer. Nothing. Nothing to worry about – until she found the lump.
After the diagnosis, Brandi found comfort in her amazing support system consisting of family, friends, co-workers and church family. “They were so kind to me and my family through my whole journey. They provided us meals, took the kids to school and practices. Raised money through a GoFundMe page, fundraisers and donations just to help us meet our insurance deductible,” she recalled.
Her treatment was 16 weeks long. After 12 weeks, a new breast MRI showed the tumor had shrunk from 3.5 cm to .7cm After her last four treatments, the tumor was completely gone.
It was great news as the type of breast cancer she had was Triple Negative Breast Cancer which has no target treatment. “Chemotherapy is what it responds to best. My doctor also said I had to go through chemotherapy first to make sure that the tumor was shrinking to know that this type of chemotherapy was effective,” Brandi noted.
On May 4, 2015, she underwent a double mastectomy with expanders placed. Then, she shared, “I had my implant exchange in August 2015 and had to have another surgery January 2016 to add cadaver tissue on my right side.” Her last and final exchange was in April 2018.
In hopes of helping others on their journey, Brandi said she was very transparent and blogged weekly. “So many people had lots of questions, and it was just a way to share and reach more people. I had so many wonderful people praying for me and my family. Through the blog, people could share it with others, and I had so many people thanking me for the blog and being so open,” said Brandi.
Amid all the treatment and bad days, Brandi said there were “a few cool things that happened.”
Their health insurance alternative, Medi-Share Christian Care Ministries, found her blog and asked if they could shoot a commercial and get an interview with her family. Then the Susan G. Komen organization asked her to be Miss December 2016 and invited her to do a photo shoot.
Brandi is so thankful to be a survivor, and now, she helps others in the midst of their journey with breast cancer. “I collect stockings and trinkets” and deliver them to facilities that have patients in treatment around Christmas time. “We sing a few songs; my husband plays the guitar and sometimes Santa comes along. We try to spread a little cheer during their treatment,” Brandi shared.
Asked about sending a message to the community about breast cancer and survival, Brandi responded, “Surround yourself with people that love you and cheer you on during the mountain tops and in the valleys of life. Being transparent with our struggles could help others one day.”
If you would like to read her blog, visit Brandimaige.blogspot.com.