“You have breast cancer….” Wow – I never imagined I would hear that on my 38th birthday.
It all started with a little lump. I noticed it, but I didn’t do anything about it for a few months. Finally in March 2012, I saw my primary doctor. She thought it was nothing, “just superficial feeling.” She had me schedule a mammogram because I was getting close to 40. At my mammogram I could tell it was more than superficial. I was quickly moved into an ultrasound, then put in a room to meet with a surgeon. The week that followed was full of biopsies, MRI’s, CT Scans, body scans, heart scans, bone scans, etc. The hospital staff got to know me by name.
It was cancer – lots of it, it was in my right breast and lymph nodes in my armpit. I was immediately scheduled for a mastectomy (I choose a double so that I would not have to worry in the future) and reconstruction. I developed lymphedema. I then had six chemo sessions, which was followed by six weeks of radiation. There were days during chemo when I would lay in bed and wiggle a toe just to make sure I was still alive. It was a rock bottom time for me, lots of tears, panic attacks, and depression. Chemo was worse than I could have imagined, and I spend many days in the cancer center with dehydration and other side effects.
I have three young (2, 6, 8), beautiful girls. It was so hard to try to keep my chin up, but I tried for them. Luckily family lives close and the girls would stay at their grandmothers for weeks while I was recovering from my chemo sessions. They knew mom had “cancer,” but they didn’t really know what that meant. After my first chemo session, I went to our local Relay for Life event and had a close friend shave my head. My sister shaved hers as well. When my 8 year old wanted to shave her head, I started bawling. No – I told her to keep her hair because I wanted to look at it every day, and my goal was to have it grow in like hers. My girl’s and my husband are the only things that kept me going during those dark days.
Radiation wasn’t as bad. But as the weeks went by, my skin burned and blistered. I will always have my radiation tattoos and the discoloration of the skin as a reminder of my day’s in the radiation room.
Now I am almost one year from the diagnoses, and I can finally see the light. I still have several more surgeries in the near future, but my day’s are better. I make the most out of each day. My family and I are closer than ever. My day’s are spent with lots of day trips, slumber parties, playing outside, and things that I didn’t do in the past. I love my girl’s, I love my husband, and I love everyone that has supported me this past year.
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.