About Isabella page title

About Isabella

I live in Texas, but I’m originally from Northern CA Bay Area.  All my education was done in the L.A area.  I earned MS in Sports Psychology.  I earned my MA in Clinical Psych and was working on a doctorate in Clinical Psychology.  I was 2 years away from completion and breast cancer changed my plans.

I am the mother of a 21-year-old son.  I was diagnosed when he was 4 years old.  I didn’t think I would make it to see him graduate from high school, so I made him a Memory Box.  In it, I put cards for special birthdays, a card for his engagement, a card for his wedding, clothes I wanted him to wear to his first interview, other random clothes and cufflinks, and the journal I kept from my divorce from his dad, so he would know the truth.

Here’s what happened…

In 2004, I had a mammogram because my right breast looked slightly abnormal.  I had no other symptoms.  No pain or discharge.  I was referred to see a surgeon.  The surgeon suggested a lumpectomy procedure. After the lumpectomy, I was told that I would have a mastectomy because it was determined that I had ductal carcinoma in situ (precancer).

I was shocked!  No one in my family had any type of cancer!

Isabella Milan Morton Dawson
Isabella and her son
Isabella and her son during this time.

The mastectomy surgery with immediate reconstruction surgery had its challenges.  I had drains that needed to be tended too.  I had a tissue expander placed into the mastectomy area to stretch the skin and muscle in preparation for the implant.  After healing from the mastectomy, the expander process started.  It required weekly saline injections for a month or longer.  When this process was over, I had the final reconstruction surgery of an implant placed inside the pocket.

The next year a mammogram revealed that I had invasive cancer in the left breast.  Another mastectomy and reconstruction surgery were scheduled, and the process started again.  For two years I rehabbed and went on with my stay-at-home mom life.

In 2007, while visiting my mom for Christmas, I had to go to the emergency room at a local hospital.  Thereafter, MRI testing revealed Stage 4 Breast Cancer metastasis to my Cerebellum (rear brain).  This effects my ability to balance (walking, etc.). In 2010, intercranial pressure caused my three Hydrocephalus surgeries. 

In the middle of all this, my husband decided to divorce me.  I had to fight for the custody of my son.

It was a tough, life-changing journey, and many days I didn’t think I would make it.  However, I’ve come through and survived.  Thank you Lord!  You know what? You can get through it too!

I’m a survivor and you can be too!

After going through the Stage 4 Cancer process, divorce, and fighting for custody of my son all at the same time, I think it is so very important that diagnosed women, families, and friends need to know that an advanced stage breast cancer diagnosis isn’t a death sentence.  That’s why I started helping women at the American Cancer Society.  I then realized that I can help even more people, so I created this web site to let others know that someone is here to help them through their journey.

Would you like to know more about my story?

If you’d like to read more about my struggle with this disease while fighting many other obstacles and find out how I learned to remain positive and trust in God’s loving embrace to help me fight this overwhelming battle, you are welcome to order my book.  Hopefully, you will get something out of my story to help see your experience differently.  Your disposition is everything!