I turned 41 in November of 2011. Like a responsible woman, I had my first “baseline” mammogram and a yearly physical in January. A week later, I got a letter in the mail, asking me to come back for a closer look at a “probably benign” finding. My wise inner voice whispered “It’s OK. It’s cancer, but don’t be afraid.”
After a second mammogram and a biopsy later, I wasn’t surprised when my results came back tied with a big pink ribbon. The official diagnosis was coextensive DCIS. Although I had other options, I just didn’t want to mess around. My grandmother had fought two battles. One at 43 and one at 53. She won both times, but lost both breasts, and because of her, I knew that my breasts did not define me, or my femininity.
On April 23rd I had a bilateral mastectomy with immediate DIEP reconstruction. I was wheeled into surgery with cancer, and wheeled out cancer-free. The recovery has had it’s setbacks (a MRSA infection in my abdomen) but with some kick-butt antibiotics I am on the mend. And my tummy and boobs, although scarred, look amazing. So much so, that at times I almost feel guilty for calling myself a survivor. But I do, because I am.
Anyone who has had a single cancer cell in their body and fought to destroy it is a survivor. We are all members of The Tough Girl Club. So keep fighting, my fellow warriors, and know that someday, cancer will go the way of the dinosaurs. We will only see pink ribbons in history museums. Until then, may you be wrapped in blankets of joy and peace and health.
The informational content of this article is intended to convey a personal experience and, because every person’s experience is unique, should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.