A 31-year old single mother with two children, Natoya Pascascio, was diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer. It's rare for a woman Natoya's age to get breast cancer as 50-year-old American women have a higher risk of getting breast cancer symptoms than 30-year-olds. But triple-negative breast cancer is most common among African American women below 40 years of age.
Natoya Pascascio felt a lump in her breast while she was breastfeeding. As she had no family history of cancer, doctors suggested that she shouldn’t get tested. With great difficulty, and against doctor's orders, she got a mammogram done and was diagnosed with cancer. Her survival story is awe-inspiring.
Breast cancer cells usually have the following hormone receptors — estrogen, progesterone, and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2. Triple-negative breast cancer is a rare type of breast cancer that doesn’t have any of these receptors. This cancer grows and spreads fast. It has limited treatment options, including chemotherapy and radiation, and its outcomes are often worse than other cancers.
Natoya Pascascio underwent the harshest of treatments. Against all odds, she survived intravenous chemotherapy, a lumpectomy (the surgical removal of cancerous tissue), 25 rounds of radiation therapy, and oral chemotherapy.
Many would’ve lost hope, but Natoya Pascascio powered through the tough times, keeping her faith in her God and loved ones. She struggled through divorce 12 days before the breast cancer diagnosis. As a single mother, she battled breast cancer during the pandemic, which made things even more difficult. But with the help of her community, friends, and her therapist, she endured the treatment and emerged stronger, fighting the disease without letting it define her.