Amanda Goss was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer on Oct. 15, 2014. The mother of two was 24.
Goss, of Hartford, shares her story at Southwestern Michigan College’s Dowagiac campus July 29 at the awards ceremony following the 43rd Steve’s Run.
In fact, her ongoing treatment will send her to Minnesota’s Mayo Clinic, which Steve’s Run benefits along with the Steven Briegel Scholarship Fund.
“I found a lump in my armpit. I just woke up with it one morning and knew something was wrong because the pain wasn’t going away,” Goss said. “I went to have a doctor check me out.
(Makayla) was 2 at the time. I thought maybe it had something to do with being pregnant.”
An ultrasound detected cancer. A mammogram and a biopsy confirmed the diagnosis within two days.
“It was pretty shocking” since the disease does not run in her family. “My other daughter was 4. I had to fight for them because I couldn’t imagine them growing up without me. That was my motivation. I couldn’t feel sorry for myself because I had to fight for them,” Goss said.
“I went to Chicago to the Cancer Treatment Centers of America for six aggressive rounds, then 18 rounds of maintenance chemo,” Goss said. “They stopped me at 10. That’s why it came back so fast.”
The 27-year-old 2008 Hartford High School graduate was diagnosed again Aug. 21, 2015, when it returned as Stage 4, having spread to her spine.
“It was a complete shock when I was diagnosed the second time,” Goss said. “I had a double mastectomy and lymph nodes removed on my left arm. The chances of it coming back were like 5 percent or less.”
Another six rounds of aggressive chemotherapy ensued.
She will receive maintenance chemo the rest of her life.
“It seems to be working,” Goss said. “There are quite a few options if it stops. It’s come a long way, but doctors only know so much. It’s also your outlook and having a positive attitude.”
“Next month will be a year since I found the second lump,” she said. “I still have no signs of any tumors. I go to Lakeland in St. Joseph every three weeks for treatment.”
“My husband (Tristin) has a new job with insurance that will let me go to Mayo, so I’m really happy and excited,” Goss said. “They’re supposed to be the best of the best.”
She attended Van Buren Technology Center in Lawrence during high school, earned her cosmetology license and became a nail technician at Hair Innovations in Coloma.
She’s taking time off this summer for the girls, Kendra, 7, and Makayla, 5 on July 24.
“Right now I’m a stay-at-home mom. I’m not really focused on work anymore,” she said, “just them and their schooling.”
Komen, shorthand for the non-profit organization Susan G. Komen for the Cure, is the largest, best-funded breast cancer organization in the United States, founded in 1982 in Dallas, Texas.
At a Komen run in St. Joseph she met news personality and breast cancer survivor Denise Bohn Stewart, killed in April 2016.
“Denise was really sweet. She came to my benefit in St. Joseph. My aunt introduced us,” Goss said.
Goss spoke at Komen’s 2017 Pink Tie Ball Feb. 11 at The Inn at Harbor Shores in St. Joseph, receiving a standing ovation.
Goss is friends with two survivors who spoke at Steve’s Run, Katie Hess in 2015 and Jamie Kastelic in 2016.
She accepted a Survivor of the Year award May 21 at the Southwest Michigan Race for the Cure at Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners, not realizing she was expected to speak.
“I gave it my best,” she smiled. “I try to prepare myself because I’m not good at speaking on the spot. I try to be involved with the Komen organization to raise awareness. I ran four miles a day before I was diagnosed.”
The “Original Road and Trail Race” 10K run, 5K run/walk and mile fun run start at 8:30 a.m. in front of the David C. Briegel Building.
SMC and $7,000 donor Fifth Third Bank are the premier sponsors.
Steve, who died March 1, 1990, at 22 after a 5 ½-year battle, graduated fifth in the DUHS Class of 1986, from SMC in 1988 and was a junior in Ferris State’s SMC program.
He participated in golf, band and basketball for the Chieftains.
Visit stevesrun.swmich.edu to register.