Patient Story

Brandi’s Cancer Journey

Brandi’s Cancer Journey
Cancer Type Breast Cancer
“Cancer didn’t make me who I am but it made me appreciate who I have become."
“Cancer didn’t make me who I am but it made me appreciate who I have become.”

Brandi Cabiness and her husband James were busy parents, counting down to becoming empty nesters. But on December 28, 2020, she learned that she had breast cancer, “It felt as if I’d had an out of body experience. I was certain they’d mixed up my test results with someone else’s,” said Brandi. She was overwhelmed and unsure of what lay ahead. Grappling with the unknown and telling her husband was difficult enough; sharing her diagnosis with her young sons was even more challenging. “Telling my boys was the hardest thing. But they were so much stronger than I was during our conversation. Without a blink of an eye they both said you’re going to beat it. It’s going to be tough but hey, you’re our mom and you can handle anything.”

In an effort to ensure she received the best care, Brandi met with three oncologists before choosing Dr. Rajendra. “He gave me a sense of ease that everything was going to be okay.” With her husband James and sons Josh and Hunter by her side, Brandi courageously began treatment. She soon found herself with many questions that only someone who’d gone through breast cancer could understand. “I was consulting Dr. Google way too much!” recalls Brandi. During a dinner with friends, Brandi opened up about her diagnosis. A connection developed that led to her meeting a triple negative breast cancer survivor. This opened the door to a huge support network that Brandi calls upon to this day. 

Trying to balance being on treatment, dealing with side effects and being a mom was tough.  Brandi wanted to make it to her sons’ baseball games and practices, but couldn’t always be there. “It messes with you mentally more than anything watching your boy walk out of the house packed up and ready to go to the ball field, knowing you’re too sick to go. You’re stuck in neutral fighting this beast living inside of you while the world is still spinning as normal. You still want to go do fun things but you can’t make that promise because you don’t know how you’re going to be feeling.”

During her 6 months of chemotherapy treatment, Brandi was concerned about hair loss, a common side effect. She tried using the Cold Cap, a device to inhibit hair loss. If she had to do it over again, she says, she wouldn’t bother. “I put a lot of energy into trying to save my hair, and struggled with hair loss. But at the end of the day it’s just hair. And it really did grow back.” She advises new patients to maintain a positive outlook, even when it’s hard. “Attitude is everything! You’re going to have your bad days but keep them short lived.”

After completing chemotherapy in June 2021, Brandi had a double mastectomy. Genetic testing showed that she was BRCA1 positive, so she was at higher risk for ovarian cancer. “I had 4 different doctors tell me it would take IVF or a miracle to become pregnant because my egg count was so low due to chemo,” said Brandi. She planned to get a preventative hysterectomy and went for a pre-op appointment. But Brandi and her husband were in for a big surprise – she was pregnant! “Pregnancy after cancer brought so many fears. Not only for myself but my husband too – it’s a fear we live with everyday; the constant ‘what-ifs’. But for now I’m going to cherish my miracle and count my blessings.” Brandi and James welcomed their third son, Clayton, with joy and gratitude.

When she meets fellow cancer patients and survivors, Brandi recognizes the difficulty of their experience.“If they’ve been through half of what I went through I know they’ve been to hell and back.” But having Dr. Rajendra and his staff on her side made the journey easier. “I couldn’t ask for a better oncologist than Dr. Rajendra. From day one I knew I was in good hands and that I was going to make it through this. I can’t thank the nurses in the treatment room enough for taking such good care of me. The entire staff is wonderful!”

Now in remission, Brandi approaches each day with hope. She has grown and changed because of her experience with cancer. “I am a 100% different person,” says Brandi. “Cancer didn’t make me who I am but it made me appreciate who I have become. Life is so precious.” 

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