You know that knowledge that you have from family history of cancer? Mine was due to my grandma passing away from breast cancer and my mother being a breast cancer survivor for 25 years. A cousin passed away from breast and ovarian cancer, and numerous family members either had BARD1 gene or BRCA. So, breast cancer is a strong force within my family and all precautions were being taken. I had yearly ultrasounds since before I was 30 and yearly mammograms once I reached the age that they were recommended. I never had any issues except fibroids.
March 2019, I had my yearly exam, and everything was normal. During 2019, my hormones were going crazy with menstrual periods every 15 days. So, I had a hysterectomy in September 2019, but left the ovaries because due to my breast cancer risk. The doctor wanted me to not have to be on hormones or go into menopause early. March 7, 2020, I had my yearly mammogram at age 52, which I was going to cancel due to the start of Covid-19 and my coworker told me just go and get it done. So, I went. That day they set me up for a diagnostic mammogram 2 weeks later since the hospitals were limiting testing. I had it on March 20th, the day after the anniversary of my grandmother passing from breast cancer. I believe in signs and angels and I know she had them find this spot because of where it was located, it was hard to see it clearly.
Then immediately set me up for a biopsy on March 23rd, 2020. On March 26th, as I sat on my break at my computer working from home, I received my call from the doctor…I remember everything vividly. I remember all the breath being taken out of my chest as I listened, “Aimee you have ductal carcinoma in situ, it’s fast growing, its estrogen and progesterone positive and it’s the size of a quarter and we already scheduled an appointment for you next week with the cancer doctor”. I hung up the phone and called my mom and sobbed and had a mini panic attack. My mom reassured me that I could handle whatever came before me. After meeting with the cancer surgeon and going over my family history of 4 people having BARD1 positive (2 of which had breast cancer) 4 people with BRCA positive (2 of which had breast cancer) and 3 had zero gene mutations and still had breast cancer. And I was the eighth for having breast cancer.
So, my only option I was given and felt comfortable with was double mastectomy with reconstruction surgery. Due to COVID-19 and my cancer being hormone positive and fast growing, I was put on Tamoxifen from April 1st until I was able to have the surgery on May 26th, 2020. When I say I am a strong, didn’t cry much kind of woman, that is what I was before the Tamoxifen. That drug made me emotional, crying daily and had anxiety attacks for almost 2 months. This has been one of the loneliest journeys I have ever been on. With the lockdown starting March 16th here in Ohio, then 3 weeks prior to surgery I was not allowed to go anywhere. Additionally, no one was allowed to see me except for my oldest of my three sons, who lives with me and my husband. Whoever was in my household is who I was allowed to be around. No one was allowed to appointments, testing, or to the hospital for my surgery. My other two sons and their girlfriends whom they live with called me via Zoom.
The morning of my surgery they stood in the front yard with signs to cheer me on as I sobbed all the way to the hospital knowing I was walking this path ALL ALONE. I spent 2 days in the hospital after surgery. On day 2 the doctor came in to release me and said, “no more tamoxifen, no radiation and no chemo. We got everything out and there was nothing in your lymph nodes”. I knew my grandma had my coworker tell me to keep my annual appointment; because if I would have waited through COVID-19 or maybe pushed it off until next year I would have had stage 2 or 3 and require more treatment according to my doctor.
This whole journey has taught me many things… I need to rely on other people, I need to take time for me, and I need to be present at every moment because you never know what will be coming down your path next. I have a new sense of gratitude and it has brought me to a new sense of peace in my life. Do not stress the small stuff because it is not worth it. Meditation has become my daily routine. My bond with my family and friends and especially the ones who are survivors like myself has become so much stronger. They were my ears when I needed to vent and a shoulder to lean on when I needed to cry. Also, my children are the most amazing humans ever, their strength and encouragement and energy is what kept me sane and pushed me to walk this journey physically alone but spiritually with everyone.
I want my story to remind someone WE ARE NOT ALONE; WE ARE NEVER ALONE! WE ARE WARRIORS AND WE WERE CHOSEN FOR THE BATTLE BECAUSE GOD KNEW WHAT BADASS SUPER HEROES WE ARE! WE ARE STRONG, COURAGEOUS, BEAUTIFUL AND BRAVE! OUR SCARS ARE PROOF WHAT WARRIORS WE REALLY ARE!
LET YOUR BEAUTIFUL PINK LIGHT SHINE FOR EVERYONE TO SEE…AND ALWAYS FIGHT LIKE A GIRL!
This story 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.