YouTuber Tess Christine is hoping to help others by sharing her breast cancer journey.
In January—after she, her husband Patrick and their 10-month-old son Theo returned home to New York from a visit to Minnesota—Tess found a lump in her left breast. Initially, she "didn't really think anything of it," she said, assuming it was a clogged milk duct or change in her body from starting to wean from breastfeeding.
But the lump didn't go away. And after Tess woke up with what she described as "throbbing pain" in her left breast at the beginning of her menstrual cycle, she decided to go in for a checkup.
Though her primary care doctor thought the lump was a cyst, "I still just had this gut-wrenching feeling that something was wrong," the vlogger shared with her 2.32 million subscribers, "and I just kept thinking the worst. And maybe that was because I had Theo and I was just like 'Oh my god, I can't have cancer. I have this new baby who needs me.'"
Tess told her doctor she still wanted to have the lump further examined, and the doctor referred her for a mammogram and a sonogram. At her appointments days later, the radiologist told her she wanted her to have a biopsy, which she did soon after.
Then, Tess got the call that made her "world just stop," she revealed. Receiving confirmation that she had a malignant tumor, "I was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma."
The content creator proceeded to have an MRI. After there were "additional findings" in her lymph nodes and right breast, Tess said, she had two more biopsies. Thankfully, the results for both came back benign. She then found a breast surgeon, a plastic surgeon for reconstruction surgery and a medical oncologist. And after meeting with the first two, Tess had surgery on April 7, which she described as "great and successful."
"So basically, we did a double mastectomy and partial reconstruction," she said in the video, "which means I have expanders in my chest that we slowly expand and then I will go in later for an additional surgery for the reconstruction part of it, like the final implant transfer, all of that, and then I will be left with my final chest hopefully."
Tess said she is still waiting on the test results to determine her treatment plan with her oncologist.
"But the good news and what just makes me just so incredibly thankful," she said before tearing up, "this is something that's curable for me and it was the best news I could have gotten out of all of this is that this is curable and I'm going to be OK. And I'm just so thankful for that. So I don't know as far as what's next for me, but what I do know is my tumor is removed and I don't have that in me anymore, which feels so amazing. I'm on the road to being fully healthy again, which is incredible."
Tess encouraged her fans to be their own advocates for their health. "This wasn't something that felt natural bringing to social media as it is probably one of the most personal topics I'll ever share with you but I felt that raising awareness to the majority of women that follow me is so important," she wrote on Instagram. "In doing so, I also hope that if you or a loved one is going through something similar, you feel less alone. This year has been the hardest yet but whatever is next for me, I'm ready."