Brandy Gum’s postnatal care took a drastic turn following the delivery of her second son — what was thought to be a clogged milk duct turned out to be Stage 2B breast cancer.

The diagnosis did not come easy for Gum.

The lump in her breast persisted after the delivery of her newborn son and she was referred by her obstetrician to a breast specialist.

“The breast specialist I saw was awful,” Brandy said. “She dismissed my concerns and told me, ‘that’s not even what cancer feels like.’”

After the dismissive attitude of her doctor, Brandy began to cry from frustration.

“I felt like the specialist was dismissing my concerns,” she said.

However, Brandy received a mammogram shortly after she stood up for her health care. It was there that her lump was first observed by a medical professional. The two weeks following the discovery of her lump, she proceeded to have another mammogram, an ultrasound and a biopsy.

After receiving the official diagnosis on May 9, 2014, Brandy left the breast specialist and instead got treatment at MD Anderson in Houston, Texas. There, Brandy had access to clinical trials.

“MD Anderson saved my life,” said Gum, a Marion County native, who as a teen was senior class president and valedictorian in 2000 at North Marion High.

At the time of her diagnosis, Brandy was only 32-years-old with no family history of breast cancer. It would not be until two years later that another family member would receive a similar diagnosis.

Brandy’s mother, Brenda Baker, was also diagnosed with breast cancer two years following Brandy’s diagnosis. Brenda is currently fighting Stage 4 breast cancer at WVU Hospital.

“I want the readers to know that young women do get breast cancer… women of all ages can and do get breast cancer. So, please do your monthly exams,” Brandy said. “And if something doesn’t seem right, push for answers. If I had listened to the first breast specialist I went to, I would be dead… You are your No. 1 advocate.”

Brandy credits her cancer remission to her amazing community, strong support system, and to the glory of God.

In times of struggle, Brandy turns to the word of God.

“I kind of adopted Psalms 118:17 as my motto, and I know that's what carried me through,” she said.

Brandy currently resides in Houston, Texas, but both she and her husband Ryan are West Virginia natives.

“I had the benefit of having friends and family from two states and multiple cities cheering for me, praying for me and supporting me,” she said. “I would have definitely not been able to do this alone, and I will forever be indebted to those people who prayed for me and supported my family over those 18 months.”

Brandy gives a special shoutout for her mother-in-law, Chris Gum, who moved to Houston for 6 months to help take care of her and her newborn son. She also gives a special shoutout to her husband Ryan and kids for being “the real MVPs.”

Brandy’s cancer has a 45% chance of recurrence, so she stresses the motto “carpe diem” both in her day-to-day activities and in her relationships. Because the fear of relapse is always in the back of her mind, Brandy practices generosity as a way of showing thanks for the love and support she received during her battle with cancer.

“I try to practice that mindset in my marriage, with my friends, and most certainly in the way I parent my two boys,” she said.

Sleepovers, Pokemon cards, and spontaneous ice cream trips are hardly ever turned down in the Gum household.

“I think having cancer made me a better person,” Brandy said. “I now realize that tomorrow isn't promised and that I need to make the most of today.”

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