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Colleen Cappon lived a normal vibrant youthful life, burning midnight candles on homework and hanging out with friends on campus parties until a strange lump on her breast changed everything. Her Senior year academic session at the State University of New York at Cortland almost suffered a major setback in her academic pursuit. But Collen refused to give in to the battle of breast cancer.

Cappon during her cancer-free days


In 2007, 21-year-old Colleen lived happily in an apartment with her friends. Just when her senior year in college was about to begin, she one day noticed a lump on her breast while getting ready to go out with friends.

A health-conscious Colleen immediately went for a test. She was told that a mass of dense cells called fibroadenoma was likely seated inside her mammary gland. A minor surgery of mass removal was recommended for her during winter break. But her strong instincts did not permit her to have a peace of mind as she suspected more danger.


After the surgery, a test per standard procedure was conducted and soon it was discovered that she had stage 2B cancer. The rude shock did not deter her from continuing her normal life as she drew a plan to manage her treatment while preparing to commence her senior year. Her class schedule had been drawn and her own share of the apartment lease signed on an apartment with her housemates. She resolved to make things work by all means.

Cappon (left) and her friends before going on Spring break.

With the help of her doctors, she would drive to her parents’ house from campus every Thursday. Then on Fridays, she would go through chemotherapy, after which she would wait behind at home for the weekend to recuperate fully before going back to campus on Sunday evening.

Colleen said she was an outgoing type of lady who chose to stay in school while getting chemotherapy treatment. “I knew it was very important for me to be socially active because it was very good for my mental health, especially during my treatments. The doctors told me that a positive attitude and an active environment are essential ingredients to healing process.”

She discussed her situation with her professors and academic advisor. She requested that her classes should be scheduled on Monday through Thursday. She received massive support from the school management. The professors wanted her to feel comfortable and do her school works according to her convenience. But Cappon was not the type who liked being pitied. She pushed through all her classes throughout the whole senior year without missing a single class or assignment.

“Stubbornness is in my being (laughs). I was already upset by what is happening to me, so I made up my mind not miss any school work or exam. And yes! I did it,” she said.

Colleen did not allow her health challenge to rub off on her campus life, regardless of the stress involved in her constant trips home to and fro each month for chemotherapy. She still attended parties as long as she had the stamina.

In December 2007, Colleen completed her four months chemotherapy. In the same month, she did a double mastectomy which was emotionally draining, because it was not easy to get rid of her 21-year budding breasts. The following year, she had a reconstructive surgery.

But Cappon did not feel much of the weight of her mastectomy because she had time to relax and sleep while the presence of her friends also helped a lot.

However, Colleen, who is now 31 years old and married to her college boyfriend, had so many uncertainties and worries that bordered on side-effects or future infertility. Her then boyfriend now husband, was very supportive all throughout her cancer treatment.

Nearly a decade had gone by and they were already positive on starting a family in the near future. Although there is still inclusiveness on whether she stands a chance of bearing children or not, she and husband are still keeping the faith and she plans to stop her medication very soon.

9 years after her first post-chemo and surgery process showed no sign of cancer in May 2008, Cappon has reached out to many young women with breast cancer sickness, a step she says has been very worthwhile.

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