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Virginia mother of 4 finds 'light in the darkness' of breast cancer journey: 'Everything pauses'

'It felt like a small acorn... I automatically knew it wasn't supposed to be there.'
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Posted at 12:12 PM, Feb 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-06 20:32:42-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- For anyone who knows Farrah Massenburg, they know she can find humor in just about anything.

"You're trying to have some light in the darkness somewhere," Massenburg said.

That dark time came Nov. 16, 2019 when Massenburg was breastfeeding her baby girl.

"I kept feeling it and feeling it. It felt like a small acorn. It felt like a hard rock," Massenburg recalled. "I automatically knew it wasn't supposed to be there."

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That gut feeling led Massenburg to see her doctor to get the knot she was feeling in her right breast checked out.

"She was laughing at my jokes and then all of sudden the smile goes serious. Then she pops the rubber gloves off and tells me she wants me to have an ultrasound," Massenburg said.

The wife and mother of four would also have an emergency biopsy. It confirmed what she already knew -- breast cancer.

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"Everything pauses when you hear cancerous," Massenburg said.

With her husband by her side, telling her family and her children was one of the toughest things to do.

"My 13-year-old. She got real teary eyed and emotional. First thing she thinks of is that mommy's going to die." Massenburg said.

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Leaning on her faith, Massenburg would begin treatments at VCU Massey Cancer Center and would undergo an aggressive form of chemo.

"I got my hair done just to go to chemo and I bought some new lipstick," Massenburg said. "I thought I was Superwoman after I got it. I was like this is it."

After the first treatment, the chemo got more intense. It sent Massenburg to the hospital multiple times for complications and infections.

After her third treatment, she suffered a seizure in the arms of her firefighter-EMT husband.

"He knows and have seen it before, but he said it's a lot different when it's your wife doing it," Massenburg said.

Massenburg had another battle: Her hair was coming out in clumps.

"My scalp was so sensitive. It felt like somebody was constantly pulling my scalp as hard as they could," Massenburg said.

She would eventually shave off all of her hair.

"I would cry get really emotional because I am changing. I didn't want to change," said Massenburg.

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But the biggest change came in May when Massenburg chose to have a double mastectomy.

"I didn't want one to look like an orange and one looked like an eggplant," Massenburg joked.

Through her jokes and countless shades of lipstick, continued to remain positive through her reconstruction surgery and more chemo.

She hopes her journey will encourage women to know their own bodies and get checked regularly.

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Massenburg will share her story during the Women and Wellness webinar presented by VCU Massey Cancer Center.

Four cancer doctors will serve on the panel and answer questions Tuesday, Feb. 9 at noon.

CBS 6 Anchor Reba Hollingsworth will emcee the event.

Click here to register to receive the Zoom link -- and please share the link with others.

Reba Hollingsworth continues Buddy Check 6 reports in honor of Stephanie Rochon
Reba Hollingsworth continues Buddy Check 6 reports in honor of Stephanie Rochon

On the 6th of the month, CBS 6 and VCU Massey Cancer Center remind women to contact their buddy to remind them to conduct a monthly breast self-exam. If it is time, you should also schedule an annual clinical breast exam and mammogram, which are key to early detection.