I Donated My Birthday to YSC

The week before I got married, there was so much to do. Finalizing plans, packing for the honeymoon and making sure everything was in place was all that was on my mind when my future husband and I discovered the lump that would change our lives so drastically.

I couldn’t imagine walking down the aisle, celebrating with friends and family and going on my honeymoon with that big question in front of me the whole time, “Do I have cancer?” So, I decided to do whatever I had to in order to get that answer as soon as I could.

I had a battery of testing, and two days before my wedding, I got the phone call from my surgeon confirming I did have breast cancer, and that she would call me tomorrow to discuss what my treatment plan would be. I was so devastated. I didn’t know what to think or feel, and having no family history of breast cancer, I had no one to turn to for advice.

The day after our rehearsal dinner, my surgeon called to tell me that I’d have to do it all – chemotherapy, radiation, surgery and hormone therapy. I remember packing for our honeymoon and trying to process all this information when Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me” started playing. I just thought about my soon-to-be husband and what this was doing to him and started to cry. And of course, he heard me from another room and ran straight in to comfort me. We just stood there holding each other while I cried. I look back on that moment so fondly now.

That night, I sat my family down and told them everything I knew. I told them to ask any questions now, because tomorrow I did not want to discuss it at all. I did not want this diagnosis clouding such a special day.  It was, despite all this, the happiest day of my life. And I knew that my husband, Tyler, would be there through it all and that we could do this together.

Rachel Pittman Wedding

When we got back from our honeymoon, I learned that breast cancer, and my upcoming treatment, could put my fertility at risk.  I felt like all my dreams were shattered that day. I felt so hopeless and didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know anyone like me going through this, so I felt I had nowhere to turn.

That’s when my mother-in-law found YSC. She had looked around on the website and found the Newly Diagnosed Navigator. She printed it off at work and put it together for me and gave it to me in a pink notebook. That notebook meant so much to me, and I carried it everywhere! s. There were sections on what to ask your doctors, which was really helpful since most of the time I didn’t even know where to start! There was a place to write down your side effects and how long they lasted; the list goes on. It was such an important tool for me, and I believe it changed my feelings of helplessness into determination. Through chemotherapy, radiation and surgery, that notebook was my guide. That’s why YSC is so important to me.

Rachel Pittman Final Chemo

“YSC’s Navigator changed my feelings of helplessness into determination.”

By the time I had finished all of my treatment, other than the hormone therapy, I was about to have my 30th birthday. I thought what better way to celebrate than to bring all of my friends and family together and raise money for YSC? So, that’s precisely what I did.

“By the time I had finished all of my treatment, other than the hormone therapy, I was about to have my 30th birthday. I thought what better way to celebrate than to bring all of my friends and family together and raise money for YSC?

We had the birthday party at a farm with live bluegrass music, barbecue and some games. On the invitations, I just asked that people bring a small donation to go to YSC. The party was a great success, and I was so happy to have all of my loved ones be a part of it.

Rachel Pittman Party Collage

As we all gathered around just before cutting my pink ribbon cake, I took a moment to thank my husband for everything he had done for me. This was certainly a rough way to start our lives together, and he had been there for me every step of the way. He was a part of every decision and researching with me all the while. He is the best partner anyone could ever ask for. I’ll never forget the look on his face as I cued the band to play a bluegrass version of “Stand By Me.”

“We raised almost $1,500 dollars at that party”

We raised almost $1,500 dollars at that party, and I was so surprised by the generosity of all of our friends & family. There have been many other rewarding experiences in my journey that I have been proud to be a part of.

“The resources that YSC makes available to women like myself are life changing, and I am so proud to help bring that message to others.”

Rachel Pittman Current Photo

I hope to do more things like this in the future, whether it’s raising money, telling my story or both. The resources that YSC makes available to women like myself are life changing, and I am so proud to help bring that message to others.


Feeling inspired by the impact Rachel made? You can Pledge Your Birthday to help other young women affected by breast cancer.

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