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  • Taylor Tashjian

A Pinch & A Burn

I've seen patients in the ER for a large variety of reasons and what I've learned is whether it's a dislocated jaw or an amputated limb, the first question that always arises, "Is it gonna hurt?" To which any of us in healthcare, alluding to the beauty of good ol' lidocaine, respond "just a quick pinch and a burn, then nothing."

Nothing. That's what I have felt the past month, nothing and everything all at once. Exactly 30 days ago I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I know what you're thinking, "What the HELL!? Isn't she twenty-something!?" I know you're thinking that because I was thinking that. And yes, I am... 25 to be exact. I was diagnosed with breast cancer at 25 years old. And not just any breast cancer, the most basic bitch of breast cancer -- invasive ductal carcinoma, which makes up over 85% of breast cancer diagnoses. Jokes aside, I've never been more grateful to be so basic.

A week earlier I was gallivanting in Olympic National Park, one of the most serene places I've ever experienced, with some of my favorite humans. I moved to Seattle in October to eagerly start my life as a travel ER nurse. After working over two years in an inner-city ER in DC, I was hungry for a change of scenery and a phat paycheck (thank you broken healthcare system!). I figured if life was gonna suck (c'mon...ER get it), at least I'd be making cash money AND have a fierce view of the mountains (when Seattle decides not to be so moody). The views in Olympic are unparalleled, one of those Pacific Northwest spots that reminds you how small you are -- I had that experience often in Washington. Olympic made me feel teeny-tiny. Our trip was wholesome and soul-filling. It was full of real adventure, my favorite woodsy fashion (REI plug) crashing pacific waves, and incredible food. Oh, and belly laughs. Lots of belly laughs. But also a lump. Here's where I wish I was one of those intuitive classy women who are all, "I found a pea-size lump." But nope, no peas here. Golf balls. This bad boy was big, and firm, and didn't hurt. The nurse in my knew these were not good signs, I let the dark ER humor shine through as I took any opportunity I could to joke about my lump, or consider what I might look like bald.

After a few days, the joke sure as hell wasn't funny anymore, instead it was gut-wrenching. I made an ultrasound appointment thinking if this thing were an abscess, I'd definitely need an antibiotic before flying home for Christmas. A woman named Leslie came in to do ultrasound. I'm terrible with names, but I couldn't forget anything about this day if I tried. Leslie was great, she was warm and calm, but Leslie's mistake was explaining the process of a mammogram while still doing my ultrasound, abscess and cyst weren't in play anymore. After my mammogram (totally overrated by the way) the radiologist came in to give the news you never imagine yourself getting: "It's cancer." I'm not sure if words ever came out of my mouth. I blacked out for the rest of the conversation, really rest of the visit. I came in for an antibiotic, and I was leaving with cancer.

My mom immediately flew out to Seattle and we spent the next few days holding onto any sliver of hope, or excuse, or bullshit we could. I mean, she had to be wrong.. right? RIGHT!? ...right? Days slowly passed and we eventually went back to the same office, once again greeted by Leslie, this time for a biopsy. I almost audibly laughed when I heard myself ask, "Is it gonna hurt." Leslie knew exactly what she was doing, she's obviously been asked this before, "just a quick pinch and a burn."

Time has played many a tricks on me lately. Days are short, nights are long. I gave up life as I knew it and flew back across the country to begin a battle I'm scared to take on. Life as a PNW-frolicking, money-hungry travel nurse has become sharing a two bedroom apartment with my parents (stay tuned on this one, mom won't let me get a cancer dog), all while being unemployed and taking on life as the patient. Days are filled with doctor's appointments, bloodwork, scans, and consults. I have nothing to do and nowhere to go, and not in the fun way. Work isn't really a distraction anymore and the hospital is no longer my place of comfort and confidence. Truly, it all sucks. But one of the harder parts of these last few weeks has been navigating how to share news that you can't quite wrap your own mind around. Explaining the unexplainable. Unfortunately, cancer doesn't leave much room for privacy. Whether I wanted people to or not, they would know. So you're faced with the question: do I tell people ahead of time so they don't ask stupid questions or do I wait until I bump into them at our go-to bar to drop the C bomb and watch their face illustrate my biggest fears? I fought this for a while, a month to be exact. And I'm not sure I've answered the question, and I'm not sure there's ever a right time to tell people you're 25 with breast cancer. What I have come to know and appreciate is the comfort I have found online, through blogs, on social media, and in the bunches of women who have reached out to share their story with breast cancer. And while it took time for me to find strength in this position, I can only hope that the next women who finds herself as petrified as I was a month ago, finds this blog and finds comfort in community.

Until then, I'll be sharing my fight with this damn thing. The ins and outs and ups and downs. The good, the bad, and oh so much ugly that I am sure is on it's way. In the meantime, you bitches better be doing your self breast exams. While you do that, I guess I'll be adding pink to my wardrobe.

Fuck, I hate pink.

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10 commentaires

22 janv. 2022

Taylor, such a shock and most likely more than a pinch when you received the news. You are incredibly strong and will fight this with each step of healing and recovery. Your story was so beautifully written, a contrast to the story itself and the &@$# you have to deal with. We are with you every step of the way. Hugs and love, Beth van Burk


18 janv. 2022

Crushing news... but Taylor there's always light at the end of this tunnel for someone like you. The small moment I got to know you I noticed the fierce & competitive nature you hold yourself. You set your bar much higher than most people which accounts for your amazing athletic & intellectual prowess. There's no denying the battles your inter strength will fight but you Taylor, will never give up, I know b/c of your relentless fortitude & determination. My dear friend, I will pray to the good Lord for you & your family to get through this with a speedy & healthy recovery. Love & miss you.


17 janv. 2022

Taylor, bunny-my heart aches that you are going through this but you are one of the strongest, most determined women I’ve ever known and YOU WILL BEAT IT! I think about you & your family every day and pray for you all as you go on this crappy journey.


Robert Herskovits
Robert Herskovits
17 janv. 2022

Taylor, We are all so proud of your inner Strength and we all stand with you on this fight. We are sending you much love.

Marlboro NJ, Herskovits


17 janv. 2022

We’re all here for you and thinking about you daily! Btw, pink will look great on your tanned skin;)

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