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By Nathan Pace
Three years ago last week, Maddie Fernandes had a shocking turn in her life. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in her mid-twenties.
“I was diagnosed Oct. 20, and that day will always be a day burned into my memory,” Fernandes said. “On that day I tend to post something on social media encouraging others to take control of their breast health. Whether it be getting a mammogram or genetic testing, getting ahead of cancer is always the best option!”
Fernandes has been cancer-free for more than two years and plenty has changed since then. The Center Grove High School and Indiana University alumna has a new perspective on how she handles day-to-day life.
“Having a life-threatening disease definitely makes you rethink how you see life, especially when you are diagnosed at such a young age. Everything is a bit clearer. You take less crap from people. And you realize how important relationships are. Being happy with your life in that very moment has more importance than it did before,” Fernandes said.
She married Phillip Fernandes shortly after her last chemotherapy treatment. The couple resided in Cincinnati and attended breast cancer awareness events every October. Fernandes kept a blog to update friends and family on her fight against cancer, and she enjoys inspiring other patients in their battles.
Support for her efforts and recovery was on display at her 10-year high school reunion. She was anxious how classmates would react to her after her breast cancer battle.
“My husband and I went this past summer and had a blast! Honestly, I was a little nervous. I was worried that people would know way more about my life (because of my blog that I was keeping) and I wouldn’t be able to reciprocate the knowledge of their lives. All that worry for nothing though ... everyone was super supportive and thanked me for sharing my story, which made my fears subside. I’m glad that I can inspire people especially when it comes to taking control of their health.”
The couple are in the process of moving to Chicago for a new job. No matter where Fernandes is, you can bet she will be sharing her story and trying to encourage young women who have to battle the same fight she had.
“We have been going to the Young Survival Coalition summits every February or March, and it’s been so nice to connect with other young survivors. This past year was in Orlando with 2019 being down in Austin,” Fernandes said.