WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Catherine Ayer-Gresham was living a carefree life in Equador. The 31-year-old yoga instructor was on top of the world. Then, one day she felt something on one of her breasts
“I’m very familiar with my body—what is normal what is not normal. And I felt it one day in my kitchen and I was like—that’s not supposed to be there,” Gresham said.
She went to a medical facility in the South American country where she says a doctor’s referral is not necessary to get screened.
“And I just walked right in and said ‘I need an ultrasound and I need a biopsy’”
It was just days before she was scheduled to head back to Wilmington, her hometown, for a vacation.
“The day that I got back here I was with my best friend and my pathologist messaged me in a text message,” she says.
Her best friend was with her when she got the text.
“She just looked and me and said ‘you got this.’”
Still, at 31, it was gut wrenching. Breast cancer is more commonly found in women over 50. The diagnosis was surprising.
“My stomach dropped because I think I knew. My body knew.”
Catherine-Ayer knew her body and that saved her life. She was diagnosed with stage one breast cancer. Still, she had a triple positive cancer—a HER2 positive cancer which can be very aggressive. Despite her young age, her doctor said chemotherapy would be on the table.
“Up until the point of diagnosis they were like ‘you’re young, don’t worry about it—don’t worry about it.’ And then the age became the summoner like -- you’re young. We need to worry about it.”
Catherine-Ayer, who has taken a year away from Equador to heal, now spends her time now blogging on her site called the Shakti Calling.
Her blog is a place to anchor her feelings.
“For me, this journey has been about empowerment with my own hands and to be able to know my body and to know myself and to know when something isn’t right.”
And to stress to other women who put off getting checked to let go of that fear.
“I think they are scared of what it could be. And because I found it early and because I listened to my gut, we got it early enough."
She’s honest, though. As she faces her final chemo treatment next week, she admits it has not been easy.
“It’s been hard and will be really hard. I’m not done yet. And its also been really beautiful because I’ve found a lot of strength within this journey.”
“A loving friend asked me the other day ‘who is the inspiration in your journey in this moment?’ And caught off guard, I had to feel into it. I close my eyes and a huge grin comes across my face. Truthfully, it’s me.”
To check out Catherine-Ayer’s blog, click here.