TIFTON — It started September 2018. Marissa Purvis found a lump.
“The doctor said he didn’t think it was anything to worry about,” Purvis said. “He thought it was a cyst, just to watch it. Well, in January it got bigger, so I went back to the doctor. They still thought it was a cyst, but decided to do an ultrasound.”
Two days later, on Jan. 31, Purvis went for testing.
“They did mammograms, ultrasounds,” she said. “They did a biopsy, where they took seven samples, then they did another mammogram.”
They told her it was breast cancer.
“My cancer is triple negative, which means that it’s a more aggressive cancer,” Purvis said. “I have to have a stronger chemo I have to take.”
She started chemotherapy in March.
“I started what they call the Red Devil,” she said, referring to doxorubicin, which is bright red in color and is so strong that those administering the drug to cancer patients have to wear protective suits. “I started it on a Monday. By that Sunday, my hair was falling out.”
She underwent four treatments within an eight week time period. Then she started another treatment once a week for 12 weeks.
Purvis said that she didn’t have any bad side effects during her treatments.
“They told me I was one in a thousand,” she said. “I never was sick the first day. I didn’t ever let it bother me. My attitude was that I’m not going to be sick, I’m not going to let this happen. I went to every ball game my son had. I’ve never missed a game. I got up every morning and put on my makeup and took my kids to school. I went on vacation. I just never quit.”
Purvis isn’t completely through her battle.
“I actually have surgery next Tuesday,” she said. “I’m going to have a double mastectomy with reconstruction.”
Purvis said that, given how aggressive her cancer is, the decision to do the double mastectomy was easy.
“They will check lymph nodes then,” she said. “If I can stay cancer free for three years, nine times out of 10 the triple negative cancer does not come back.”
She said that most women don’t have breast cancer at her age.
“Most of the time breast cancer shows up after 50,” she said. “So it’s a very rare case to have someone in their early 30s with breast cancer.”
She said that she gives credit to God for making it through.
“It’s brought my family close together, and it’s brought my family closer to God,” she said.
Purvis also said that she wants to use her battle as a testimony and wants to help others who don’t know what to expect after a diagnosis.
“The day I had the ultrasound and he told me he was 99.9 percent sure I had breast cancer, I cried and I cried and I cried,” she said. “Then the next morning I woke up and I got on my hands and knees and I told God if He would allow me to survive and beat this, then I would use it for His blessing. I would use it to make sure everybody knew what was going on and what to do.”
She said that she had no idea what to do or what to expect throughout the process.
“Nobody in my family has cancer, period,” she said. “There’s no kind of cancer in my family.”
She advises women to do their own breast exams once a month, and if they find something that worries them, don’t let it go.
“Ask them to have an ultrasound done,” she said. “If I had had mine done in September… they could have just took it out and I’d have had a lumpectomy and I wouldn’t have to go through all this surgery. I would say once a month self exams.”