After being diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, Crystal Mackey is studying to become a nurse to care for other cancer patients.
“I always felt in the beginning, why me? And now I’m like, why not me?” she explained. “There’s kids that get cancer. So I think God gave me this as a journey to help others. And that’s what I’m gonna do with my life.”
In May 2018, Mackey was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer, a rare and aggressive form of breast cancer known to grow much faster than others. The average age of diagnosis for IBC is 52 years old but she was diagnosed at age 34. Because IBC spreads quickly, it’s likely to be missed by routine mammograms and a biopsy is necessary to confirm the diagnosis.
Mackey says it took three months after her initial doctor’s visit until she was approved for a biopsy and was diagnosed with Stage 3 IBC.
“When I was diagnosed I thought, I have to start chemo rights away? I had no—And I felt powerless,” she said. “I took that power back because I shaved my head before I lost it before chemo.”
Mackey underwent a double mastectomy and radiation. She acknowledges that having IBC will entail a lifelong battle. But she hopes she can help others by sharing her story.