Couple warns women to check body often

Breast cancer strikes young women too: disease doesn’t discriminate based on age
Nov. 9, 2017

By Denise DuBois

Last year, Michelle and Matthew Castine had a life-changing moment one April day. At 39 years old, Michelle found a lump in her breast and was soon diagnosed with stage four breast cancer. At the same time, Matthew, a medically discharged retired military veteran, was scheduled to have back surgery - a surgery to correct a bad back that, otherwise, would put him in a wheelchair. 

“I had a large breast tumor and several on my liver. Immediately it was bad,” Michelle said. Matthew put off his surgery and went into caregiver mode. 

“I put myself and everything else on the back burner for her. It’s tough,” Matthew said.  

Her attitude was everything, though.

“I was too young and I had a lot of life to live. There is no way this was taking me down,” she said. 

After chemotherapy, a scan revealed that it was gone.

“Miraculously, they did a scan and could barely find anything, which was absurd,” Michelle said. “It was nothing short of a miracle.”

Because the breast cancer she was diagnosed with was hormone related, she decided to have a hysterectomy. But as she lay in bed one night a few months ago, Michelle felt again and something wasn’t right in her breast. The cancer had come back. She had a double mastectomy in August. At the same time as her recovery, in September, Matthew had his back surgery. 

“Nothing can prepare you,” Matthew said of hearing of his wife’s cancer. “You have to pick yourself up every day. In the military, you train, train, train. This -- you can’t prepare for.”

As for Michelle, she continues to tell her friends to check themselves because cancer doesn’t “hurt.” You may never even know you have it, she said. 

“I never had any pain or side effects. You never know it’s inside you. That’s why it’s so important to feel around and know what’s supposed to be there and what’s not,” she said.