At 41, Nicole Wynne went in for her yearly breast exam.
She did not have a family history, so for Nicole, it was just something she was checking off her "to do" list.
"I missed my 40th mammogram," Wynne said. "I didn't feel like it was that important. I was having a little bit of breast pain and didn't think it would affect the mammogram, of course."
That pain did affect the mammogram. That sign that Wynne pushed to the side was a warning that she had breast cancer.
"It was my first mammogram, and I was diagnosed that day with a very aggressive form of breast cancer," Wynne explained. "People ask if it runs in my family and the answer is no. It definitely turned our world upside down."
After the initial shock, Wynne said she had to pull herself together and plan her next steps. She has four kids, a husband, and said she could not let breast cancer take over a life that she had so much more to live.
"My whole focus and purpose as to not get sucked in by what cancer can do to you mentally and physically," Wynne said. "One of the things we chose to do was coach my little one's basketball team. My brother and husband helped me coach; we wanted to take the focus off cancer and put the energy into other people. I think so much energy is being put into you that it can easily be a dark tunnel that you can go into because of so much uncertainty. Physically, emotionally and mentally it can take a toll on you."
Something else that Wynne learned from her journey is that "you" are your best advocate. That means taking the reins when navigating this journey and to not let anyone else make decisions for you.
"That's why it's so important to have your husband or sister there with you because they will be that extra strength and second brain that you need through this intense medical diagnosis," Wynne said. "Nobody wants it, but it is common, and we need to set people up for as successful as a journey as it can be."
Dr. Akshjot Puri, Hematologist and Oncologist with Our Lady of Lourdes JD Moncus Cancer Center, agreed. She said that this cancer journey is a partnership among doctor, patient, and family.
"When you're going through so much it's a long road and it takes a toll on your body and mind," Puri said. "Sometimes you can't see forward, and you want those people who make those decisions for you and see for you. It's definitely a team approach."
Today, Wynne is cancer free and is using her platform to educate others on the importance of not putting something off that could potentially save your life.