Nursing a sore knee, Erin Clubb decided to take a break from training for the 2014 Reno-Tahoe Odyssey. That break, she determined, would be a good time to get checked out for what she thought was a clogged duct from breast feeding her youngest son.
With her two kids in tow, then 4 and 1, she went into the doctor’s office.
“She didn’t like what she felt, so she sent me straight to the ultrasound tech,” Clubb recalled. “They didn’t like what they saw, so they sent me straight to the surgeon.”
Her routine appointment turned into the dreaded diagnosis: Breast cancer.
“I had my two kids in the room with me, so I was trying to hold it together for their sake,” she said. “It was scary.”
The first surgeon recommended a lumpectomy, but her husband, an X-ray and Cat Scan technician at Sierra Surgery, urged her to get a second opinion.
“We knew because of my age we just wanted to be aggressive,” she said.
She received her diagnosis on May 30, 2014, and on June 11, she went in for a double mastectomy.
“The hardest time was waiting,” she said. “I knew I had this thing in my body that was killing me and I couldn’t get it out. And I was lucky, I got in quicker than a lot of people.”
Her main concern remained her children.
“The worst part was it was summertime — my daughter was in soccer camp — and I just didn’t want my kids to suffer,” she said.
During her chemotherapy July 21-Dec. 10, she took her children along to most appointments.
“I wanted them to know it wasn’t a scary thing,” Clubb said. “It was just part of my getting better. I wanted to show them how strong you can be.”
Other patients would often comment, “I don’t know how you do it with the little ones,” Clubb said. “I would say, ‘I don’t know how you do it without them.’”
Her family and in-laws came down from Washington and Oregon, where she and her husband lived before they moved to Carson City seven years ago.
Her mom brought a travel trailer down to live in while Clubb went through treatments.
“They were participants in my fight,” she said. “It was like the troops rallied. We were at war. Everyone was there.”
Once her chemo treatments were complete, she started on Herceptin, which reduced the risk of cancer recurrence. She had the port in her chest for that treatment removed Monday. Her last treatment will be Oct. 21.
Blood tests show she’s now cancer free.
Clubb, 34, has since undergone reconstructive surgery as well, and her hair is growing back. She’s even picked up fly fishing as a new hobby she can enjoy with her husband.
“I’m moving on. I’m looking at what else there is for me,” she said. “Things I might have been timid about before, now I’m like, why not? Have as many good days as you can. Revel in the little stuff.”
She often speaks, both formally and informally, about her cancer diagnosis, urging women to get checked regardless of age — even if they’re breast feeding. She shares with other patients her choice of treatment, but is quick to point out there is no one right answer.
“It’s amazing all the women I’ve met, we have different forms of treatment,” she said. “It’s interesting how you can have 16 different women in a room and we all have different treatments. It’s all individualized. It’s phenomenal.”
She left Friday for a women’s soccer tournament in California this weekend and planned to run her first half-marathon in November.
“When I feel strong physically, it reminds me that I’m bigger than cancer,” she said. “No matter what, it can’t defeat us.”