ALAMANCE COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — Sydney Simmons, 25, was diagnosed with breast cancer one year ago.
“To sit here and say that I am cancer-free … is the best feeling in the world, and I do not take it for granted because I know that my story could have been different,” Simmons said.
Over the past 12 months, the Alamance County woman got engaged, married and went through chemo and radiation.
After finishing treatment at Cone Health Cancer Center at Alamance Regional, Simmons rang the bell.
“That was the moment where I was able to take a deep breath and exhale and know … Sydney, you made it,” Simmons said.
The 25-year-old is focused on her future.
“As I was riding this high of engagement, it was like boom life happened,” Simmons said.
Two days after her boyfriend proposed, she found a lump. “It was the size of the golf ball,” she said. Ten days later, she was diagnosed with stage three triple-negative breast cancer.
“It is so hard to break the news of breast cancer to somebody who is 25,” said Dr. Archana Rao, an oncologist at Cone Health Cancer Center at Alamance Regional.
Rao says triple-negative breast cancer is most common in Black women between the ages of 30 and 40.
“Because it is more aggressive than the other cancer … it tends to present as a rapidly growing mass, so my message would be … don’t ignore that mass,” Rao said.
Simmons is grateful she went for a mammogram immediately after she found the lump and encourages all young women to do the same.
“When it comes to our health, we know our bodies best, so if you feel something is wrong, if you don’t know what is happening, advocate,” Simmons said.
Her family, friends and fiancé helped her during tough times, but the biggest impact was her incredibly positive attitude.
“Just learning that … I am stronger than I think. I need to give myself more credit,” Simmons said.
While getting treatment, she tied the knot this summer at her mentor’s house.
“She opened up her home to us and her backyard and allowed us to have our wedding ceremony very intimate with family and friends,” Simmons said.
As she begins her newest journey as a married woman, she still has a few more immunotherapy treatments. The last one is the final week of 2023.
“It will be kind of cool to exit out of this year but begin a new year in a different journey,” Simmons said.