GCA Assistant Principal Shares her Journey with Breast Cancer

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Patsy Collins

Amy Capello has been at Georgia Cyber since 2012, working as both a Science Teacher and an Assistant Principal during her time here. A dedicated member of our GCA team, Amy loves "helping students reach their potential and watch them grow into amazing young adults". 

In addition to being an integral member of our faculty, Amy recently received a life-changing diagnosis. This past April she was diagnosed with Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IDC), an aggressive cancer that only impacts 2% of all breast cancer patients. Amy was generous enough to share her journey with us, read her story below.

"In April of 2020 I was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive breast cancer, known as Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC).  This cancer affects only 2% of all breast cancer patients and is so aggressive that it is only diagnosed as Stage 3 & 4.  I am only 38 years old and have not yet reached the age where diagnostic mammograms are even recommended.  I was having some unusual symptoms and honestly, I ignored them for a little while.  After finally going in to see my doctor, she misdiagnosed me (this is very common with IBC and is a familiar story for most of us!).  Luckily, I have a doctor who is aware of IBC and she knew the seriousness of the disease.  After I didn’t respond to the medication she prescribed, she sent me in for a mammogram and ultrasound.  On April 22, I left the hospital with my diagnosis.  Unfortunately, I was alone for my appointment and diagnosis.  My husband is a nurse and on that day, he was in New York working at a hospital caring for COVID-19 patients. After telling him over the phone later that night, we cried together and did our best to encourage one another from a distance.  A few days later, he flew home and I started my treatment journey.  Since IBC is aggressive, I had neoadjuvant chemotherapy, meaning that I had chemo before surgery.  Within a week and a half of my initial diagnosis, I’d met with 3 oncologists, had surgery to place my port, and 15 hours after having my port placed, I received my first chemotherapy.  I did 4 months of dose dense chemo and then had a radical modified non-skin sparing bilateral mastectomy without reconstruction.  It’s been a whirlwind of an experience but I’m healing well and getting stronger every day!  However, I’m not done yet.  I am now on a new oral chemo treatment and the next part of my journey is to get daily radiation therapy at the hospital. 

I know that breast cancer is never a diagnosis you want to hear, that cancer is scary and overwhelming and unnerving.  Nevertheless, I cannot say enough about how blessed I am throughout this journey.  I am not 'fighting' breast cancer because I’m already claiming victory!  This journey is a long, tiring process, but I’m fortunate enough to have supportive family, friends, and co-workers that have loved on me throughout this entire process.  I am blessed that we caught the cancer at Stage 3, I am blessed to have an amazing team of oncologists, and I’m blessed to have people in my life that bring me joy & happiness even through the tears!

As someone who has been recently diagnosed, and someone in the middle of her treatment journey, I have been celebrating Breast Cancer Awareness month by celebrating life itself!  I am lucky to be alive and lucky to have a chance to prove my survival statistics wrong.  This month is all about healing, growing, and staying the course on my journey – looking this scary thing in the eyes and facing it head on, with the support of my tribe standing beside me.  In future years, this month will be a time of reflection, gratitude, and an opportunity to share my story with others in the hopes that lives can be saved because of the others who have gone before them.  I would encourage all women to pay attention to their bodies, listen to what they’re feeling, and follow up with their doctor if anything is amiss.  Even if you’re younger than 40 (I’m only 38!), don’t have a family history of breast cancer (I don’t either!), and don’t have any breast cancer genes (me neither!), please pay attention and get regular check-ups.  I encourage all women to honor yourself, prioritize your health, and listen to your body so that you can continue to be a positive driving force in the lives of the ones you love."

Collage of photos from High School Assistant Principal Amy Capello

Thank you so much Amy for sharing your story with us. Your words are incredibly inspiring, and we are proud to have you represent our Champions! We encourage everyone to show your support for all those who have been impacted by Breast Cancer throughout the rest of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

To find out more information about Breast Cancer, click here.

To find out more information about how to donate to Breast Cancer research, click here.

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