In mid August, I was taking a shower and found a big hard lump in my right breast that wasn't there the previous day. I already had a doctors appointment scheduled for that day and since I had a cyst on the other side the previous year that required a mammogram, I decided to mention it. I knew immediately by the look of concern on his face that he didn't think this was just a cyst. He didn't give me the option of scheduling a mammogram when it was convenient. He picked up the phone and scheduled the test for the next day. One day after my mammogram, the results came back as a Category 5, which means high probability of malignancy. At the time I was working and was very fortunate to have a great boss that worked with me and supported me until I could not work anymore.
This is when my life turned into a roller coaster ride. My life-long doctor that had taken care of everything surgical for me couldn't take care of this problem. He had to refer me to a surgeon in Monroe. From the day I had my first visit with the surgeon until this very day, everything he told me wouldn't happen did and what would happen didn't.
My surgeon sent me for a wire guided punch biopsy. I had many of my family members with me in the doctors office when it was time to get my results. My mind kept telling me that I was wasting everybody's time because I am 43 years old, I had no history of breast cancer in my family and I had a mammogram one year before that was fine.
When the doctor came in, he really didn't need to say it you could see it on his face. He just looked at me and said it is malignant. My mind went blank and I felt like I wanted to cry but I looked around and almost my entire family was crying and I knew I had to hold it together for them. That day, they scheduled me for only a right mastectomy because he said there was only a seven percent chance it would come back on the other side. During my surgery, they found two additional smaller tumors and tested sections of my lymph nodes, which showed my lymph nodes were clear. Three days later when I went to my surgeon for a follow-up and found out I had a very aggressive cancer called Stage 2/3 Triple Negative cancer and that it HAD spread to my lymph nodes.
When I recovered from surgery, I was scheduled for an operation to place a port so that I could receive my chemotherapy. The next step was to an oncologist who reemphasized the aggressiveness of my cancer and told me as soon as I finished all treatments, I would need a mastectomy on the other side. I ended up having 10 rounds of chemotherapy in five months.
Page 2 of 3 - I lost all of my hair and the treatments made me feel so bad. When I finished the second treatment, I really did not think I could do any more. I prayed so hard and begged God for strength because I was considering stopping treatments. I finished the chemo and got about a month to recover before I started my radiation.
Another new doctor, a radiation oncologist, told me I will need five points radiated and I will have to come for these treatments everyday Monday through Friday, for seven weeks. Again, I had to pray for strength because these people were burning holes in my body everyday and each day the burns got worse. I did finish the treatments, but I wish now I wouldn't have done the radiation because it has caused me to have severe lymphedema in my right arm and damaged my chest so that my right side is essentially useless.
I got some time to recover and had to have a right mastectomy due to my type of cancer and several months later, had to have what was left of my female organs removed.
I have now been a survivor and been in remission for almost two years. I was at first told that if the cancer didn't come back within three years, I would be cured but, now they have changed that to five years. I feel I have truly been blessed with the best support system that includes my husband, children, grandchildren, my daddy (who drove me to every treatment), sisters, inlaws, extended family, church family, and a few true friends.
Cancer has been a blessing and a curse for me. It has been a tough couple of years that has left me with many life-long side effects that prevent me from doing so many things that I want and need to do. I am rarely able to attend church services that I love so much. I always feel as if I am neglecting my loved ones. Each day now is a struggle and I was perfectly healthy before this diagnosis. The devil always tries to creep in my mind and convince me to give up but I quickly pray him away. I am very thankful that I found God before this journey began and that cancer has brought me so much closer to Him. I rely on Him to carry me through each day. It has made my marriage stronger. My husband has been by my side through so many things some I can't even mention here and has supported me in many tough decisions. Every time I look at my children and my grandchildren, it is with brand new eyes and every moment I have with them, good or bad, has important value. It has taught me to appreciate every small thing that I am allowed to experience. It has taught me who my true friends are. You have so many people reach out to you when you are diagnosed (I appreciate every person), but very few that stay with you through all of the struggles. I am so thankful for everyday that the Lord lets me wake up and spend another day with the ones I love. I honestly count my blessings daily.
Page 3 of 3 - I try each year to raise funds for the Susan G. Komen Foundation, to give back to others that need help and to raise awareness and hopefully, one day find a cure. I also want to encourage all women to get a mammogram each year, because I know from my own experience, a year can make a big difference.
It has been a long road but by the Grace of God I am still a survivor!! I will continue to walk the path that He has chosen for me and I know I will always have trials. I am still facing at the minimum two more surgeries but, I do not have fear because I know He will carry me and see me through.
If you or someone you know gets diagnosed with breast cancer or any cancer, don't let doctors rush you. Get a second or even a third opinion. Don't feel pressured to do things that your not comfortable with because you are the one that will have to suffer the consequences. Always surround yourself with positive people and above everything else, never lose faith.