BOSTON (CBS) — Julie Tolek remembers the exact minute her life changed forever: June 26, 2019. It was eight in the morning when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
“I thought I was in a dream. Nightmare, I guess, is a better description,” Tolek recalled. “I couldn’t say the word. It couldn’t be my life.”READ MORE: Cape Cod Prepares For Possible Widespread Power Outages During Nor'easter
The diagnosis: stage two grade two invasive ductal carcinoma — an aggressively growing cancer.
“I chose to have a double mastectomy even though my cancer was only in one breast. I decided I wanted to do everything in my power to not have to go through this again,” Tolek explained.
Her surgery happened in December after going through chemotherapy all summer and fall. A month of daily radiation overlapped the arrival of coronavirus in Massachusetts.READ MORE: Report: Xander Bogaerts Plans To Opt Out Of Red Sox Contract After 2022 Season
“I was using a glove to touch the elevator buttons and sanitizing — literally every time I went by a hand sanitizer — all along the patient rooms. Every one, I was just sanitizing my hand constantly,” she said.
Many routine health exams, like mammograms, are postponed right now. But it’s something Tolek wants everyone to prioritize when the threat of coronavirus is behind us.
“It took like three or four months for me to get an appointment. They booked the appointment right away, but it was three or four months out,” she said. “Who knows how much it grew between when I found it and when I got in for the appointment.”
Her treatment is now complete, and Tolek’s cancer is gone. She’s protecting herself at home and is focused on the bright future with fiancee Mike that she fought so hard for.MORE NEWS: Woman Hit, Killed By School Bus In Mattapan Remembered As 'All-Around Good Person'
“We already have it booked for August of 2021,” she said. “Venue booked, photographer booked, I have my dress already. It’s very exciting to have something to look forward to.”