SAVANNAH, Ga (WSAV) — In 2014, young and vibrant, Deandrea Savage was enjoying her job as a longshoreman on the Savannah River.

She says a medication she was taking made her sick, and that November her world was turned upside down.  

Deandrea said, “One day I was having a hard time getting up out the bed,” Deandrea said.  

That’s because she felt lumps in her breasts. I wanted to know what the lumps felt like so she used a drinking cup to explain. 

 “So as I was turning over in the bed and I felt the lumps when I touched my breast from here on the left side it was from start from this point ending at this point as far as how far it came around the breast.  It was the thickness and the hardness of a cup.  It felt that hard with the width of it like this,” Deandrea said. 

Her doctor called for a mammogram and more tests. Then Deandrea got confirmation.  Deandrea was diagnosed with stage one breast cancer.

She was asked, “What was your reaction?” 

Deandrea replied, “Shock. I was just in disbelief for a second.  And then I was like, I’m healthy and young, so how?”

Doctors at the Lewis Cancer and Research Pavilion say 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. The risk is less than 1% when you’re in your 30’s. At the age of 36, Deandrea and her doctors quickly came up with a plan of attack.

“6-month chemo to start off to shrink the mass as much as possible. Then we went in for surgery. After the surgery, we started back up with chemo to make sure they got all of it,” Deandrea stated. 

As a mom, she was worried about her sons.

She said, “They received it, and they took it well. They took it well, better than I expected.”

But Deandrea needed a care team to help her as she was going through treatment. So her cousins stepped in and set up an around-the-clock sister circle.

“They set schedules to make sure that someone was always there with me when I had needed to go to the doctor if I had needed treatment or made sure that you know, I had eaten, my kids were straight,” Deandrea said. 

Shemika Simmons said, “We had a plan of action together and we pushed through. We did it. Of course, everybody was sad about it.  Every time I came to the Lewis Cancer Institute I cried, but I was thankful at the same time.  At the same time because it was bittersweet. You know they were helping her during her treatment and we were very appreciative,”

Her family’s support during her battle then and now is proof that family support is critical in the treatment and recovery process.

“It’s relief. I don’t have to think about the other stuff, I could just focus on treatment and getting better.”

Deandrea had a mastectomy. She waited this long to share her story because: 

“It’s emotional to hear that someone didn’t make it through, but I did, I had faith the whole time that I would make it through, and I know I’m strong to make it to help someone who may feel like they’re weak in the moment of them finding out.”

Now, through Buddy Check 3, this beautiful woman is strongly encouraging other women to make their bodies priority number one.

“Do your monthly checks. Get your Buddy. You know tag team with each other. Make sure you stay on a schedule with the Buddy Check and also your yearly mammogram.”