My name is Catherine Massard Ribetti.
On October 30, 2018, sometime after 4pm while still at the office, I received a call from my doctor. Just hearing his voice, I immediately knew something wasn’t right… He was calling to give me the results of my biopsy done last week after having felt a small lump while showering 2 weeks prior. He said the words, “You have invasive ductal carcinoma, breast cancer.” I was quiet and couldn’t believe what I just heard. My legs felt numb, but my body started to tremble. The doctor was speaking to me about my next steps; I was in daze yet somehow still able to ask some questions. Halfway through the conversation, I finally started to cry. I couldn’t breathe. How could this be happening to me? My doctor, radiologist and ultrasound tech all said they were 90% sure it was nothing. I had just finished breastfeeding one month before, so they thought it was a clogged milk duct or something – it turns out it wasn’t. It took me a while to calm down enough to drive home from the office.
I kept hearing a voice in my head repeating, “I have breast cancer”.
A week after my diagnosis I found out specifically that I had triple negative breast cancer, the most aggressive form of breast cancer. It’s not fed by hormones or a protein, and it has a high rate of recurrence within the first 5 years after diagnosis. The cause of triple negative breast cancer is actually unknown. My biggest fear had come true – chemo was now part of my reality. Even now it still seems surreal, but this was the beginning of my journey. A journey that included chemotherapy for 16 rounds, followed by double mastectomy, reconstruction and currently oral chemo.
I have never questioned, “Why me?” In some ways I wonder if I had some strange intuition years ago that this would eventually be my fate. Breast cancer awareness has always been an important cause near and dear to my heart. I remember saying it was one of the biggest fears any woman can have. I recall running this Race years ago for another team. During my run, tears started flowing down my cheeks and I couldn’t understand why. Was it the amount of people running around me that made me feel inspired by this worthy cause or was it because of something else…?
Although there’s been a mix of emotions throughout, I’ve felt more peace than I have ever felt in my life. You must think to yourself, “Peace?” Peace because I have faith and have surrendered myself to God throughout this process. In exchange, I’ve been given that peace of mind knowing that I’m going to be OK. I’ve felt joy because I never felt so at peace before in my life!! I’ve admired my body for being such a rock star! I’ve felt blessed to know how much I am loved and cared for. Some people aren’t lucky enough to know how much they are loved until it’s too late. Lastly, I am grateful for each day that I feel good and celebrate that always. I am grateful for the amazing support system I have had and continue to have.
My main inspiration for fighting this fight are my little boys, Giovanni (4) and Massimo (2). I want them to know how strong their mama is, and I plan to be around for a long time. The truth is I’ve always been a fighter so when this happened, I literally looked at this as though I was going to battle! I bought camouflage sweatpants and wore them to chemo every session! My support system also empowers me and without them I’m sure I wouldn’t be able to maintain the positive outlook that I’ve had throughout this process. My husband, sister, and parents have made this journey easier for me and that gives me motivation to stay strong. I give a super special thanks to my husband for being there for me and the kids every day of our lives. It hasn’t been easy taking on the role of mom & dad sometimes especially for our 2 yr. old that had just turned 1 when I was diagnosed! My mother and sister have been my private nurses and haven’t missed any of my appointments. They managed to make infusion fun and more of a girl hang out session than the scariness that it can actually be. My job has been incredible and all the beautiful people I work with. You don’t know how incredible it is to not have the stress of your job on your back while going through this. The rest of my family who shaved their heads in support of me, I will never forget! My dear friends who kept in touch, sent flowers and other gifts to get me through were amazing!! I have been so blessed that it really has helped to accept my diagnosis and inspire others with my strength
Catherine Massard Ribetti
Profession: Trial Attorney
Type of Breast Cancer: Triple Negative
Year of Diagnosis: 2018
Relationship to Komen: Donor, Team Captain