We fought the fight and won! Yes, I said we. I was diagnosed with stage one cancer on April 16, 2013, I am 42 years old. It effected myself, my husband, my kids, my family, and my friends. I won’t take credit for beating cancer, if it wasn’t for them, I never would have gotten off the floor.
When the phone rang and I missed the call, I looked at caller ID and saw it was my doctor’s number. I knew in that moment the voice in my head telling me something was wrong, it wasn’t just a whisper, it was a scream. I had skipped four years of mammograms. Why? I had an excuse every year, none of them good enough. Starting in late 2012, I started getting a nagging feeling to go. I made the first appointment they had, April 1, 2013. Having had a biopsy and a MRI I knew what that call meant. I called back and heard the words, it’s cancer. Everything came to a total standstill as I sunk to the floor, not the chair because I didn’t think the chair could hold the enormous weight on my shoulders. I called my husband, my sister, and best friend. In a matter of minutes I was surrounded with support. My son called his dad around the same time because he had heard the conversation on the phone with my doctor and called his dad to tell him mommy was crying. It still haunts me, that he heard his mom had cancer on speaker phone. My son, Ryan, 12 years old, took the news hard. It was weeks before he wouldn’t let me out of his sight. He insisted in laying in bed with me and holding my hand every night. I answered his questions with honesty and held nothing back. My daughter, Emily, 15, took in everything and kept it inside, she’s a lot like her mom. My husband was instantly a rock of support. My best friend had me laughing in minutes. My sister looked at me with support and fear.
Eleven years ago my mom died from stage 5 breast cancer. Her fear of being tested made her ignore a lump she had for what we think was two years or more. My sister was her primary caregiver, so when she looked at me she must have seen my mom in that moment. I remembered the strength and support my sister was to my mom and knew I had my support team!
The first thing I did, was dye my hair pink! It was going to fall out anyway, why not have some fun? My son had me give him a pink Mohawk, my daughter dyed her tips pink, and she HATES the color pink! My husband offered to shave his head but I didn’t let him. He would have done it in a heartbeat.
Exactly one month later I had a bilateral mastectomy and had tissue expanders put in to start the reconstruction process along with a port-a-cath. I started chemo two weeks after that. chemo was scheduled every three weeks for 12 weeks. I’m not going to sit here and tell you it was easy, but it was easier than what my mom had gone through 11 years ago. I never got sick, I had bad bouts of bone pain, tiredness, and the muscle fatigue was very hard. Again, the support of my family, friends, doctors, and nurses was amazing.
The care I received at the breast cancer center was five star. If they told you this, this, and this was going to happen or help it did! They told me around 19 days after my first chemo my hair would start to fall out. Boy, did it! In clumps, so I decided to make the decision when it would come out and had my husband shave it all off. It was like taking the decision away from cancer and making it my own.
While I was recovering, my husband rubbed my back, dried my tears, and was a rock for me and my kids. My best friend did my laundry every day, sometimes three times a day. My daughter cooked dinners and cleaned the house. My son cleaned and told me he loved me every chance he got. My husband, sister, best friend, mother in law and dad all went to chemo with me at one appointment or the other. My best friend showed up every time! The cards, gifts, and food came in waves. My friend would sneak in when I was at appointments and clean my entire house. Friends and family stopped to visit just to keep me company. The support was endless and I will never know how to thank them all.
Chemo ended August 9, 2013. I’m cancer free!!
Now came the hard part. Everything happened so fast, I think it took my emotions sometime to catch up. I looked in the mirror and was disgusted by what I saw. Scars, scars, scars. I started avoiding the mirror all together. I am self-conscious all the time. I hide the shape of my “breasts” with sweaters and am always aware of my shirts showing any part of my scars. I’m having a difficult time. I had reconstruction surgery on October 15, 2013. I want to say that I will feel differently. But, I just don’t , but I will! My hair is starting to grow back! But I must admit it was nice not having to shave all summer! I think it will be a long road to emotional recovery. I think this is normal. I am seeing a counselor. People may think they don’t need help, I feel no shame in sharing my emotions and my fears. I focus on the fact that I am alive and I can grow old with my husband and watch my children grow up. What I do know is that out of all of this it has brought me closer to my husband, my children, family, and friends.
I AM A LUCKY WOMAN! I AM A SURVIVOR!
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.
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.