Last March, 25-year-old Amy Lott stepped out of the shower and noticed something: a small lump on her left side, under her breast. A yoga instructor, chef, and all-around healthy and active young woman with no family history of breast cancer, she didn’t think much of it.
Neither did her doctors, who she consulted just to be safe. Her gynecologist and a breast surgeon agreed—the lump in question was likely a fibroadenoma, a benign tumor common in young women. Nonplussed, Lott scheduled surgery to have it removed that summer—it was an annoyance and had begun to grow.
On August 9, Lott was home alone when the phone rang. It was her surgeon: The pathology from her lumpectomy came back, and it was positive. At 25, Lott was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer.
“I just crumbled to my knees and started to cry,” she said. “How is this even possible? You think that something’s behind you, and then your world shatters and you have a new fight ahead of you.”
Indeed, the fight would rage on for the next six months as Lott endured 16 rounds of chemotherapy—she started the same day Hurricane Harvey hit Houston and finished this Wednesday.
Next, she’ll undergo a unilateral mastectomy and lymph node removal, breast reconstruction, and radiation. The first five years will be Lott’s most critical, as her type of cancer—triple negative, the most aggressive kind, and prone to recurrence—is most likely to return early on.
“The next five years will be a lot of just watching and monitoring and not giving into fear,” she said.
That starts this Saturday, when Lott—and 50 friends walking in her name—will take part in Houston’s 27th annual Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, a 5K to fundraise for breast cancer research and, locally, support, treatment, screening, and education services for patients. The foundation continues to work toward its goal of halving breast cancer deaths in the U.S. by 2026.
“The idea of walking a 5K right now is like—oh, wow, a lot,” Lott said, “but I’m actually really excited to set this goal, to have this actual physical goal that I can be strong enough to walk a 5K and have my friends by my side. I think it’s going to be a really powerful and cool day.”
It will also serve as a full-circle moment for Lott, who credits her perseverance through an aggressive chemo regimen to her strict adherence to a daily walk—even just down the block with her dog.
“That was a really important part of my treatment plan,” she said. “I noticed on the days that I didn’t walk, I would not have the energy, and I would get into a slump and would get depressed.”
Also important to Lott was regaining control of whatever aspect of her health she could—she went vegan and stuck to a plant-based diet as long as she could manage, until chemo claimed her appetite and she needed more calorie-laden meals.
“I’m a healthy person, and it’s just crazy to think that all of a sudden your body kind of goes against you,” she said. “When you don’t have the energy to clean your kitchen or fold clothes, it makes you grateful for the arm strength that you once had. It makes you want to work out, it makes you want to take care of your body ... when you’re so weak that you can’t do normal, everyday things, it gives you a newfound appreciation.”
To Lott, prioritizing mental wellbeing is just as important as maintaining physical health—and with cancer at 25, those are both daily challenges.
“Everyone is like, oh, cancer—mental is half the battle. And it’s almost three-fourths the battle, it really is,” she said. “There are days when you want to lay in bed and be depressed. Which you should—you should cry when you want to cry and be sad when you want to be sad. But then you pick yourself up. No one’s going to do that but you.”
So, she does, taking time to meditate, putting on makeup—even if no one will see it—and, as always, walking.
“I’m looking forward to [the 5K on Saturday],” she said. “I’ve been training.”
You can still sign up for the Komen Race for the Cure, and race day walk-in registration runs from 6–8:30 a.m. at 1000 Bagby Street.